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American Difference
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American Difference
A Guide to American Politics in Comparative Perspective

Second Edition


March 2019 | 312 pages | CQ Press
Examining democracies from a comparative perspective helps us better understand why politics—or, as Harold Lasswell famously said, “who gets what, when, and how”—differ among democracies. American Difference: A Guide to American Politics in Comparative Perspective takes the reader through different aspects of democracy—political culture, institutions, interest groups, political parties, and elections—and, unlike other works, explores how the United States is both different from and similar to other democracies.  

The fully updated Second Edition has been expanded to include several new chapters and discussion on civil liberties and civil rights, constitutional arrangements, elections and electoral institutions, and electoral behavior. This edition also includes data around the 2016 general election and 2018 midterm election.
 
Preface
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Authors
 
Chapter 1: American Politics from a Comparative Perspective
What Does It Mean to Examine American Politics from a Comparative Perspective?

 
Is American Democracy the Best Type of Democracy?

 
Why Is It Important to Examine American Politics from a Comparative Perspective?

 
What to Expect in the Following Chapters

 
How to Use This Book

 
Key Terms

 
Review Questions

 
Notes

 
 
Chapter 2: Similarities between the United States and Other Democracies
Definition of Democracy

 
Procedural Democracy

 
Public Contestation (Competition) and Inclusion (Participation)

 
Freedoms

 
Socioeconomic Development

 
Conclusion

 
Points to Remember

 
Key Terms

 
Review Questions

 
Suggested Readings

 
Notes

 
 
Chapter 3: American Exceptionalism
Differing Views of Governing Legitimacy

 
Functional Explanations for American Exceptionalism

 
Social Democracy and Liberal Democracy

 
Conclusion

 
Points to Remember

 
Key Terms

 
Review Questions

 
Suggested Readings

 
Notes

 
 
Chapter 4: Political Beliefs: Political Culture and Ideology
Political Culture

 
Civic Culture

 
Political Engagement: Political Interest

 
Interpersonal Trust, Reciprocity, and Social Capital

 
Political Efficacy: Free Choice and Control over Life

 
Distinction of American Cultural Beliefs

 
Individualism and Economy

 
Ideology

 
Conclusion

 
Points to Remember

 
Key Terms

 
Review Questions

 
Suggested Readings

 
Notes

 
 
Chapter 5: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

 
Explaining Differing Levels of Civil Rights and Liberties

 
Civil Liberties in Practice

 
Civil Rights in Practice

 
Conclusion

 
Points to Remember

 
Key Terms

 
Review Questions

 
Suggested Readings

 
Notes

 
 
Chapter 6: Constitutional Arrangements
Constitutional Arrangement: Constitutional Longevity

 
Constitutional Arrangement: Majoritarian and Consociational Democracies

 
Vertical Organization of Government: Unitary, Federal, and Confederal Systems

 
Conclusion

 
Points to Remember

 
Key Terms

 
Review Questions

 
Suggested Readings

 
Notes

 
 
Chapter 7: Governing Institutions
National Governing Institutions

 
The Legislative Branch

 
The Executive Branch

 
Judiciary

 
Conclusion

 
Points to Remember

 
Key Terms

 
Review Questions

 
Suggested Readings

 
Notes

 
 
Chapter 8: Interest Groups
Interest Groups, Social Movements, and Social Movement Organizations

 
Interest Group Life Cycle

 
Pluralist Versus Neo-Corporatist Interest Group Arrangements

 
Why Pluralist or Neo-Corporatist?

 
Role of Interest Groups in the United States Historically and Today

 
Types of Groups

 
New Social Movements

 
How Do Groups Participate in Politics?

 
Conclusion

 
Points to Remember

 
Key Terms

 
Review Questions

 
Suggested Readings

 
Notes

 
 
Chapter 9: Political Parties
Party History and Formation

 
American Party Development—Why Aren’t Parties as Strong?

 
The Founding and the Aversion to Parties

 
The Nature of American Parties

 
Where Are the American Cleavages?

 
Role of Parties in Government

 
American Two-Party System Versus Other Party Systems

 
An Americanization of Parties Elsewhere or More Party Government in the United States?

 
Conclusion

 
Points to Remember

 
Key Terms

 
Review Questions

 
Suggested Readings

 
Notes

 
 
Chapter 10: An Americanization of Parties Elsewhere or More Party Government in the United
Candidate Selection

 
Electoral Institutions

 
Plurality, Majority, and Proportional Representation Systems

 
Consequences of Electoral Systems

 
Conclusion

 
Key Terms

 
Review Questions

 
Suggested Readings

 
Notes

 
 
Chapter 11: Electoral Behavior
Introduction

 
Context of Elections and Campaigns

 
Voting Behavior: Electoral Participation

 
Political Party Mobilization: Weak Party Organization in the United States

 
Campaign Information Flow

 
Clarity of Electoral Choice: Liberalism and Limited Government

 
Evaluating the Consequences of the Electoral Context on Voter Participation

 
Electoral Behavior: Determinants of Vote Choice

 
Nonvoting Behavior

 
Consequences of Electoral Laws, Context, and Voting for Democracy

 
Conclusion

 
Points to Remember

 
Key Terms

 
Review Questions

 
Suggested Readings

 
Notes

 
 
Chapter 12: Conclusion
Notes

 

“Most of my students assume that all democracies maintain a two-party system, a separation of powers, a federal system, and a strong tradition of freedom of speech. What they need is in [this] excellent book. It gives students a comparative perspective on what is exceptional in the American democratic design, what leads democracies to differ from and resemble one another, and how these differences and similarities affect students' lives. I strongly recommend the authors’ approach and their book.”

Marjorie R. Hershey
Indiana University

“This book follows the Tocquevillian logic that the best way to understand American politics is to compare to other nations. American Difference offers a very readable and engaging introduction to what is distinct about American political institutions, culture, interest groups, and party politics—and the implications of these differences. A strong addition to any American politics course.”

Russell Dalton
University of California, Irvine

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781544325330
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