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American Difference
A Guide to American Politics in Comparative Perspective

Second Edition


April 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.
 
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
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: Political Culture and Ideology
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: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Introduction  
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties  
Explaining Differing Levels of Civil Rights & Liberties  
Clear and Present Danger  
Lemon Test  
Civil Liberties in Practice  
Civil Rights in Practice  
Conclusion  
Points to Remember  
Key Terms  
Review Questions  
Suggested Readings  
 
Chapter 6: Constitutional Arrangements
Introduction  
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
Introduction  
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
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 9: Political Parties
Introduction  
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
Introduction  
Candidate Selection  
Electoral Institutions  
Plurality, Majority, and Proportional Representation Systems  
Consequences of Electoral Systems  
Conclusion  
Points to Remember  
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  
Non-Voting 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

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ISBN: 9781544325330
£34.99