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.
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