Refinancing the American Dream: the Consequences of Targeted Financial Policy for Political and Racial Inequality in the United States.

Political participation of marginalized groups is necessary to ensure the representation of their interests. The underparticipation of those in lower income brackets is well documented. Little attention, however, has been paid to how financial services such as pawnshops, check-cashings, auto title loans, and payday loans (collectively known as the fringe economy) exacerbate this relationship. Addressing the political behaviors of those touched by the fringe economy is necessary because these individuals compromise an often neglected voice in society: the overwhelmingly poor, disproportionately minority. This dissertation draws on multiple-methods to outline the characteristics of fringe economy users and the impact financial institutions have on participation, and political attitudes in low income, disproportionately minority communities. Financial institutions, akin to other public policies and institutions can shape the distance of citizens from government, with profound implications for democratic governance and inequality in America.