American Federalism: A Concise Introduction

American Federalism: A Concise Introduction

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Understanding federalism - the form of political organization that unites separate polities within an overarching political system so that all maintain their political integrity - is central to the study of democratic government in the United States. Yet, many political scientists treat federalism as a set of abstract principles or a maze of budgetary transfers with little connection to real political life. This concise and engaging book boils the discussion down to its essence: federalism is about power, specifically the tug for power among and within the various levels of government. Author Larry N. Gerston examines the historical and philosophical underpinnings of federalism; the various "change events" that have been involved in defining America's unique set of federal principles over time; and the vertical, horizontal, and international dimensions of federalism in the United States today. The result is a book examining the ways in which institutional political power is both diffused and concentrated in the United States.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 197 pages
  • 152.4 x 223.52 x 15.24mm | 249.47g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • bibliography, index
  • 0765616726
  • 9780765616722
  • 1,327,221

Table of contents

Part I. Creating a New Nation; 1. The Great Political Experiment; Defining Federalism and Organized Power in the "First New Nation"; * Endless Nuances; * The Four Characteristics of Federalism; * Fluidity and Continuity; * Follow the Bouncing Ball - The Uncertainties of Federalism; * Outcomes of Federalism; * Looking Ahead; 2. Reordering the Rules on Power and Governance; Questioning the Traditional Rules on Power and Governance; * New Theories and the Old Regime: Sowing the Seeds of Change; * The Articles of Confederation - First Effort at Self-Governance; * The Constitutional Convention - Second Effort at Self-Governance; * From the Past to the Present; Part II. Organizing a Federal System of Government; 3. The Appeal of Tradition; Tradition: The Conservative Ethic in America; * To Trust or Not to Trust the People - Conflicting Themes; * The Constitution: Assigned Powers and Early Interpretations; * Pitting Liberty Against Equality?; * Tradition, Yes, But What Tradition?; 4. Institutional Change Agents: Political Wellsprings; The Courts as Change Agents; * The President as a Change Agent; * Congress as a Change Agent; * National Institutions on the March; 5. Informal Pressures on the Power Flow; Political Parties; * Interest Groups; * Bureaucracy: Pushing From the Periphery of Power; * Public Opinion; * Informal Pressures: Ambiguous but Real; Part III. The Dimensions of Modern Federalism; 6. Vertical Federalism; National/State Relations; * National/Local Federalism; * State/Local Relations; * National/Private Sector Relations; * Vertical Federalism in Perspective; 7. Horizontal Federalism: Arrangements Among the States; State Political Cultures in the Federal Framework; * Public Opinion and Policy Differences; * State-to-State Competition; * Regional Cooperation; * Horizontal Federalism in the Twenty-first Century; 8. The International Dimension of Federalism; The Many Faces of Globalization; * Immigration; * Security; * International Dimensions in a Domestic Context; Part IV. Continuity and Change; 9. Explaining Federalism in the Twenty-first Century; Problem-Solving in a Defined Political Structure; * Emerging Themes, New Directions, Unanswered Questions; * The Future of American Federalism.
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Review quote

"[This text] introduces the reader to a complex set of concepts using plain language and appropriate examples, making the subject understandable without insulting the reader. The book will appeal to the student of American government or anyone who wants to understand how these relationships work in the real day-to-day world of government and politics." - Michael G. Fischer, Director, We the People: Project Citizen Center for Civic Education"
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