The Dynamics of American Politics: Approaches and Interpretations

By Lawrence C. Dodd; Calvin Jillson | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Conversations on the Study of American Politics: An Introduction


The study of American politics resembles nothing perhaps more closely than the American political system itself. Students of American politics almost universally point to the fragmentation of American governmental processes, the inadequate dialogue among our political actors and institutions, and the incoherence of American public policy. And so it is with American politics as a field of academic study, wherein we find a vast assortment of differing schools of thought and scholarly approaches, scholars of differing traditions who seldom converse with one another or listen to competing interpretations, and an incoherent body of knowledge that often appears in fundamental contradiction. As Theodore Lowi ( 1992) has remarked so astutely, we do truly become what we study.

And yet, just as the political system is capable of change, so too is the study of American politics. Thus, in the past several decades scholars have embraced sophisticated methods for the measurement and modeling of political behavior. Today virtually every conceivable aspect of our politics is weighed and measured, sifted and culled -- all with an eye to those statistical patterns and logical theorems that may give contemporary scholars a special insight into political processes denied their predecessors in a less technological age. Likewise, scholars have extended the scope of their inquiry, looking not only at contemporary politics but also increasingly at historical patterns, searching for dynamic regularities that may clarify contemporary politics and provide a broader understanding of political life. No longer are the founding era, antebellum politics, the progressive movement, or New Deal machinations solely the province of historians. Political scientists also see in earlier eras, and in patterns across eras, a unique opportunity for empirical discovery and theoretical learning.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Dynamics of American Politics: Approaches and Interpretations
Table of contents


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 451

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?