The Transformation of American Politics: Activist Government and the Rise of Conservatism

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Professor Department of Government Paul Pierson, Paul Pierson, Theda Skocpol
Princeton University Press, Aug 19, 2007 - Political Science - 324 pages

The contemporary American political landscape has been marked by two paradoxical transformations: the emergence after 1960 of an increasingly activist state, and the rise of an assertive and politically powerful conservatism that strongly opposes activist government. Leading young scholars take up these issues in The Transformation of American Politics. Arguing that even conservative administrations have become more deeply involved in managing our economy and social choices, they examine why our political system nevertheless has grown divided as never before over the extent to which government should involve itself in our lives.

The contributors show how these two closely linked trends have influenced the reform and running of political institutions, patterns of civic engagement, and capacities for partisan mobilization--and fueled ever-heightening conflicts over the contours and reach of public policy. These transformations not only redefined who participates in American politics and how they do so, but altered the substance of political conflicts and the capacities of rival interests to succeed. Representing both an important analysis of American politics and an innovative contribution to the study of long-term political change, this pioneering volume reveals how partisan discourse and the relationship between citizens and their government have been redrawn and complicated by increased government programs.

The contributors are Andrea Louise Campbell, Jacob S. Hacker, Nolan McCarty, Suzanne Mettler, Paul Pierson, Theda Skocpol, Mark A. Smith, Steven M. Teles, and Julian E. Zelizer.


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American Politics in the Long Run
The Shifting Political Landscape
The Rise and Reconfiguration of Activist Government
Government Activism and the Reorganization of American Civic Democracy
Parties Electoral Participation and Shifting Voting Blocs
Conservatives on the Rise
Seizing Power Conservatives and Congress since the 1970s
Economic Insecurity Party Reputations and the Republican Ascendance
Policy and Politics in the New American Polity
The Transformed Welfare State and the Redistribution of Political Voice
The Policy Effects of Political Polarization
Tax Politics and the Struggle over Activist Government
Political Development and Contemporary American Politics

Conservative Mobilization against Entrenched Liberalism

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About the author (2007)

Paul Pierson holds the Avice Saint Chair of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. Theda Skocpol is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University.