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Democratization in America

, 352 pages

4 line drawings

May 2015



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Democratization in America

A Comparative-Historical Analysis

The essays in this volume examine democracy’s development in the United States, demonstrating how that process has shaped—and continues to shape—the American political system.

Scholars of American politics commonly describe the political development of the United States as exceptional and distinct from that of other advanced industrial democracies. They point to the United States as the longest-lived and most stable liberal democracy in history. What they often fail to mention, though, is that it took considerable time to extend democracy throughout the country.

The contributors to this volume suggest that it is intellectually fruitful to consider the U.S. case in comparison to other countries. They argue that the development of democracy is ongoing in America; that even with a written constitution grounded in liberal democracy, the meaning and significance of U.S. democracy are still evolving. This volume shows that democratization and the pursuit of democracy are processes affected by multiple and continuing challenges—including such issues as citizenship, race, institution building, and political movements—as patterns and practices of politics and governance continue to change.

This innovative approach contributes significantly to comparative democratization studies, a field normally confined to Latin America and former communist countries. The U.S. case is a unique reference point for students of American political development and comparative democratization.

Desmond King is a professor of American government at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, and author of The Liberty of Strangers: Making the American Nation. Robert C. Lieberman is provost of Johns Hopkins University and author of Shaping Race Policy: The United States in Comparative Perspective. Gretchen Ritter is a professor of government and vice provost at the University of Texas at Austin and author of The Constitution as a Social Design: Gender and Civic Membership in the American Constitutional Order. Laurence Whitehead is Official Fellow in Politics at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. His many publications on democratization and comparative politics include Latin America: A New Interpretation.

"An exceptionally provocative framework for understanding American political development. It will inspire new research and fruitful discussion among both established scholars and graduate students in comparative politics and American political development."

"A valuable contribution to our understanding of American political development."

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