Class and Party in American Politics

By Jeffrey M. Stonecash | Go to book overview

1968) by asking whether legislators might simply be working harder, spending more time on the job, getting to know their constituents better, doing a better job representing them, and connecting more with their constituents. Perhaps it is just that academics are following the principle of the drunkard's search (look where the numbers are, rather than where the questions are [ Kaplan 1964: 11]). There is, to be sure, a part of the discipline that focuses on the dynamics of advocating policies and electoral reactions (for example, Sundquist 1983, Carmines and Stimson 1989), but this perspective does not seem as dominant as that evolved from the Mayhew framework. To the extent that framework is relied upon, it is less likely that the connections between constituents and politicians will be investigated. They are simply not seen as central to what keeps politicians in office.


Consequences

Much academic research has a limited impact on politics. The development of the argument that class divisions have declined have, however, had considerable impact. The argument that Democratic Party positions on cultural, social, and race issues drove away the working class and hurt the party's chances in presidential elections ( Edsall and Edsall 1991b; Radosh 1996; Lawrence 1997; Carmines and Layman 1997) has become a fundamental part of interpreting American politics. Much of the evidence about this declining division was accepted because other research provided a basis for concluding that this conclusion made sense. If anything, this review suggests how powerful the impact of academic research can be in creating inclinations to accept particular conclusions and stop examining the evidence.


NOTES
1.
Some may quite justifiably argue that the thrust of this analysis is just that results vary by the indicator chosen, and that it should not simply be concluded that one measure is the appropriate one and that class divisions have increased. This suggests that the real issue might well be the need to have a methodological debate about appropriate measures. That may well be the case, but the point to be addressed in this chapter is that a methodological debate about class did not occur, and the interesting question is why that debate did not occur.
2.
The treatment of the occupation of homemakers presents a problem in how to code them. During the 1950s approximately 35 percent of women classified themselves as homemakers, but by the 1990s this had dwindled to 9 percent. If homemakers were excluded it would eliminate a significant percentage of women. The occupation of spouses is not given in the cumulative file. Rather than estimate the occupation of women as a function of their spouse, homemakers are

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Class and Party in American Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Transforming American Politics ii
  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - Inequality and Political Debate: the Failed Role of Democrats 1
  • 2 - The Puzzling Survival of Democrats 9
  • Notes 16
  • 3 - Social Change and Anticipating Party Fortunes 17
  • Notes 41
  • 4 - Evolving Party Constituencies and Concerns 43
  • Notes 84
  • 5 - Electoral Response and Realignment 87
  • Notes 118
  • 6 - Reconsidering Party and Issues in American Politics 123
  • Notes 140
  • Appendix - The Analysis of Class Divisions in American Politics 141
  • Notes 157
  • References 159
  • Index 183
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