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Cambridge University Press
Party Polarization in America: The War Over Two Social Contracts

Party Polarization in America: The War Over Two Social Contracts

by B. Dan Wood, Soren JordanB. Dan Wood
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This book develops a general explanation for party polarization in America from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Prior polarization studies focused exclusively on the modern era, but this work traces party polarization from the constitutional convention of 1787 to the present. Using such a broad historical perspective shows that what was unusual in American history was the period of low polarization from the Great Depression through 1980, rather than the period of high polarization of the modern era. Polarization is the norm of the American system, not the exception, and is likely to persist in the future. More theoretically, party polarization in America has been due to class-based conflict and rent-seeking by the patrician and plebian classes in various historical eras, rather than conflict over cultural values. As in earlier historical eras, modern party polarization has largely been elite-driven, with party entrepreneurs cunningly and strategically using polarization to their advantage.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107195929
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 08/18/2017
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 388
Sales rank: 959,285
Product dimensions: 6.57(w) x 9.45(h) x 1.02(d)

About the Author

B. Dan Wood's other books include Presidential Saber Rattling (Cambridge, 2012), The Myth of Presidential Representation (Cambridge, 2009, and recipient of the 2010 Richard Neustadt Award), The Politics of Economic Leadership (2007), and Bureaucratic Dynamics: The Role of Bureaucracy in a Democracy (1994). He is a widely cited author of many articles in leading political science journals. Wood has also taught statistical methods at the Essex Summer School, Colchester, the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research, University of Michigan, and the European Consortium for Political Research, Vienna, Austria.

Soren Jordan is an Assistant Professor at Auburn University. His research focuses on lawmaking in Congress, especially how lawmaking strategies have evolved over time as a result of the polarization between the two political parties. His work has appeared in Social Science Quarterly, Research and Politics, and The Forum. He is also the author (with Kim Quaile Hill and Patricia A. Hurley) of Representation in Congress: A Unified Theory (Cambridge, 2015). Prior to coming to Auburn in 2016, he was a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Political Science at Texas A&M University after earning his Ph.D. there in 2015.

Table of Contents

1. Theoretical perspectives on party polarization in America; 2. Establishing the founders' social contract from the constitutional convention through George Washington; 3. The consequences of the founders' social contract from reconstruction to the Great Depression; 4. Forging the new deal social contract from the Great Depression through World War II; 5. The new deal social contract through the 1970s; 6. Polarization over the new deal social contract from the 1970s to present; 7. Are Americans ideologically polarized?; 8. Elite polarization and democratic representation; 9. Polarization as the norm of the American system.

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