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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kevin S. Price
POL S 557
Seattle Campus

United States Party System

Examines the institutional and behavioral foundations of party politics in the United States, emphasizing key historical patterns of party system development and the major scholarly approaches to the study of the American parties and party politics.

Class description

Description: In this course, we will undertake a general overview of political parties in the United States. Scholarly interest in political parties has grown substantially over the last several years as students of American politics have concerned themselves with the role of parties in representation, lawmaking, governmental legitimacy, and mobilization. While one can find plenty of research on parties in government, in organizations, and in the electorate, scholars are increasingly focused on the relationship among these various partisan forms. To put it another way, studies of American parties are increasingly grounded in the premise that the party system is indeed a system, a collection of interrelated policies, processes, and institutions. The natural implication of that premise is that one should work to understand the ways in which developments in one part of the party system relate to developments in other parts of that system. To that end, we will examine key historical changes in American party politics, both general patterns and specific conjunctures.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Expectations: Preparation, attendance, and participation are obligatory. Four reaction papers (of roughly three to four pages each) and an extended literature review or a serious research proposal (either one of which should be 15-20 pages in length).

Recommended preparation

Texts: Martin Shefter, Political Parties and the State: The American Historical Experience; Paul C. Frymer, Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America; Steven P. Erie, Rainbow’s End: Irish-Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban-Machine Politics, 1840-1985; David R. Mayhew, Electoral Realignments: A Critique of an American Genre; John H. Aldrich, Why Parties? The Origin and Transformation of Political Parties in America; Political Science 557 Reader.

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Suman C. Chhabra
Date: 07/24/2003