Virginia Postrel

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Virginia Postrel is an American journalist and media researcher, concerned with many aspects of public opinion and popular culture; she is editor of She is a contributing editor for The Atlantic, where she formerly wrote the "Culture & Commerce" column. She serves on the board of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and has been a media fellow at the Hoover Institution.


While she has written and studied for conservative and business organizations, she can be eloquent on the role of a continuous political spectrum between the extremes. Commenting on the polarization of U.S. politics, she wrote of the Los Angeles Times book festival as and interesting--and sunny and full of people (70,000 on Saturday alone). But I sometimes felt like I was in an alternate universe, where Katrina vanden Heuvel represents the center of American politics. The quick and dirty way to characterize the makeup of the panels, including mine, would be to say they reflect liberal bias. But that would be wrong.

The problem isn't that conservatives or libertarians are missing (though they mostly are) but that liberals--the non-socialist, non-Marxist people who make up the mainstream of the Democratic Party and, for that matter, American journalism--are so dramatically underrepresented. While you can find exceptions, the LAT [Los Angeles Times]] Book Festival, like the LAT Book Review, represents the world according to David Horowitz, in which there are no liberals, only the left and a few token anti-leftists for "balance."[1]

Drawing on a research paper, [2]she points out that the parties have not she has asked the question, "have religious issues become more important in politics because too few Americans go to church?...While most people know that the Republican Party has taken an increasingly strong anti-abortion position, the authors note that the Democratic Party has simultaneously moved in the opposite direction." Her observation is that church issues are just the right size for appeals: "the nation's church attendance has shrunk to the political sweet spot, while union membership has become too rare to reward sharp tilts to the economic left. Political platforms have diverged on religious issues and converged on economic issues." [3]


For six years, she was an economics columnist for The New York Times business section, with her last column appearing March 23, 2006.

Organ donation

In March 2006, she donated a kidney to her friend Sally Satel, a psychiatrist and research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. She has become a vocal advocate of living organ donations and of reforming federal laws that prohibit payment of any "valuable consideration" to organ donors. She writes and speaks frequently on the subject.

Earlier journalism

From July 1989 to January 2000, Postrel was the editor of Reason magazine. She founded Reason Online, the magazine's website, in 1995. During 2000 and 2001, she served as Reason's editor-at-large.

Postrel has been a columnist for Forbes, for its companion technology magazine Forbes ASAP, and for D Magazine, the Dallas city magazine. She was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.


Postrel graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University, with a degree in English literature.


  1. Alternate Universe, Dynamist, Virginia Postrel's blog
  2. Edward L. Glaeser, Jesse M. Shapiro and Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, /glaeser/papers.html Strategic Extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats Divide on Religious Values
  3. Virginia Postrel (4 November 2004), "" Economic Scene: God and the Electorate", New York Times