New Directions in American Politics introduces students not just to how the American political system works but also to how political science works. La Raja brings together top scholars to write original essays across the standard curriculum of American government and politics, capturing emerging research in the discipline in a way that is accessible for undergraduates. Each chapter combines substantive knowledge with the kind of skill-building and analytical inquiry that is being touted in higher education everywhere. Contributors to New Directions highlight why the questions they seek to answer are critical for understanding American politics, and situate them in the broader context of controversies in research.

The teaching of American politics follows a well-worn path. Textbooks for introductory courses hew to a traditional set of chapters that describe the Founding, American institutions, the ways citizens participate in politics, and sometimes public policy. The material rarely engages students in the kind of questions that animate scholarship on politics. One hurdle for instructors is finding material that reflects quality scholarship—and thus teaches students about why, not just what—and yet is accessible for undergraduates. Articles in scholarly journals are typically unsuited for undergraduate courses, particularly introductory courses. What is needed is a book that conveys exciting trends in scholarship across vital topics in American politics and illustrates analytical thinking. New Directions in American Politics is that book and will be an ideal companion to standard textbooks that focus mostly on nuts and bolts of politics.

The book features:

  • Contributions from a top-notch cast of active scholars and a highly regarded editor
  • A focus on analytical thinking that addresses questions of causality
  • Full coverage of the American politics curriculum
  • Short interviews with each contributor on a companion website to help the research come alive and prompt critical thinking questions for students
  • Work that draws on the highest quality research in political science but is written specifically for first year undergraduate students.

There is simply no book like this available to the growing number of faculty who want their introductory American politics course to be a reflection of the political science discipline and not just the nuts and bolt facts of the American political system.

part |16 pages


chapter |14 pages


ByRaymond J. La Raja

part I|87 pages

Governing Institutions

chapter 1|24 pages

American Federalism as a Political Weapon

ByDavid Brian Robertson

chapter 2|18 pages

Reintroducing the Policy Process into Studying Congress

BySean M. Theriault, JoBeth Surface Shafran

chapter 3|24 pages

Presidential Authority in a Separated System of Governance

ByAndrew Rudalevige

chapter 4|20 pages

The Supreme Court and Political Regimes

“Great Tides” in Politics and Law
ByCornell W. Clayton

part II|127 pages

Influencing Politics

chapter 5|18 pages

The Networked Party

How Social Network Analysis is Revolutionizing the Study of Political Parties
BySeth Masket

chapter 6|17 pages

The Influence of Interest Groups in American Politics

Myth versus Reality
ByMatt Grossmann

chapter 7|18 pages

The Reach of the Partisan Media

How Choice Affects the Political Influence of Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow
ByKevin Arceneaux, Martin Johnson

chapter 8|23 pages

Why Tough Campaigns Are Good for Democracy

ByKeena Lipsitz

chapter 9|26 pages

Polarized Populism

Masses, Elites, and Ideological Conflict
ByPaul J. Quirk

chapter 10|24 pages

The Motivational Underpinnings of Political Participation

ByJoanne M. Miller

part III|95 pages

Politics and Policy

chapter 11|24 pages

The Politics of Immigration in a Nation of Immigrants

ByJack Citrin, Matthew Wright

chapter 12|23 pages

Race, Ethnicity, and Politics

Controversies and New Directions
ByJennifer R. Garcia, Katherine Tate

chapter 13|30 pages

Parties, Leaders, and the National Debt

ByDaniel J. Palazzolo

chapter 14|17 pages

What War's Good For

Minority Rights Expansions in American Political Development
ByRobert P. Saldin