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American Difference
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American Difference
American Politics from a Comparative Perspective

Explore American politics from a comparative perspective



© 2016 | 248 pages | CQ Press
Americans strongly believe in the idea that our democracy is unique—is an exception, in fact, among other advanced industrialized democracies. But exactly how and why is our political system different? Poloni-Staudinger and Wolf start with the idea that each country’s political priorities are influenced by the development of its political beliefs, political culture, and political institutions. They want to remind American students that our form of democracy is just one form of democracy. And if we examine components of our political system comparatively, we can better see and learn the ways in which our government is unique as well as see how other democracies function differently and successfully. This learning through contrast not only enriches students’ understanding of their own political system, but this comparative context has become increasingly important as students see themselves as global citizens, competing and engaging in what is truly a globalized world and workforce.  Unfortunately few  American government texts offer much in the way of comparison to other countries and comparative politics books don’t always situate the US in their analysis. This book fills that void with a crisply written and brief supplement.
 
Tables, Figures, and Photographs
 
Preface
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Authors
 
Chapter 1: Introduction
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  
Notes  
 
Chapter 2: Similarities between the United States and Other Democracies
Introduction  
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
Introduction  
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
Introduction  
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: Political Institutions
Introduction  
Majoritarian and Consociational Democracies  
Governing Institutions  
Vertical Organization of Government: Unitary, Federal, and Confederal Systems  
National Governing Institutions  
The Executive Branch  
The Legislative Branch  
Judiciary  
Civil Law Legal Tradition Systems  
Common Law Legal Tradition Systems  
Conclusion  
Points to Remember  
Key Terms  
Review Questions  
Suggested Readings  
Notes  
 
Chapter 6: Interest Groups
Introduction  
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 7: Political Parties
Introduction  
Party History and Formation  
Party Formation as a Result of Democratization  
American Party Development – Why Aren’t Parties as Strong?  
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 8: Elections, Electoral Institutions, and Electoral Behavior
Introduction  
Candidate Selection  
Electoral Institutions  
Plurality, Majority, and Proportional Representation Systems  
Consequences of Electoral Systems  
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  
Non-Voting Behavior  
Consequences of Electoral Laws, Context, and Voting for Democracy  
Conclusion  
Points to Remember  
Key Terms  
Review Questions  
Suggested Readings  
Notes  
 
Chapter 9: Conclusion
 
Index

“I think the main strength of this text is the attention paid to culture and the recurring theme of American exceptionalism.  The authors stay focused on those themes and it shows throughout the book. This gives the text a clarity that other books may lack.”

Joseph Romance
Fort Hays State University

“I believe that American students especially benefit from seeing their own system from a comparative perspective.  They are often frustrated or disillusioned with shortcomings in American democracy and they are not used to thinking about other ways that democracy is practiced.  Poloni-Staudinger and Wolf’s book gives students a context for understanding weaknesses and strengths in American democracy and enables students to (often to their great surprise) appreciate their system in a new light.  As educators and policy-makers look for ways to increase undergraduate interest in civic engagement and democracy-promotion, this book could be a valuable tool for helping students to see how democracy can work to provide the public good in various countries.”

Jacqueline Reich
Chestnut Hill College

“This book is a concise, no-nonsense account of the ways in which US politics differs from that of other advanced industrial countries. It offers a combination of brevity and comprehensiveness rarely found in introductory textbooks.”

Taylor Dark
Cal State University Los Angeles

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 4

Chapter 5


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ISBN: 9781483344355
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