Disjointed Pluralism

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2001-04-01
  • Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr
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From the 1910 overthrow of "Czar" Joseph Cannon to the reforms enacted when Republicans took over the House in 1995, institutional change within the U.S. Congress has been both a product and a shaper of congressional politics. For several decades, scholars have explained this process in terms of a particular collective interest shared by members, be it partisanship, reelection worries, or policy motivations. Eric Schickler makes the case that it is actually interplay among multiple interests that determines institutional change. In the process, he explains how congressional institutions have proved remarkably adaptable and yet consistently frustrating for members and outside observers alike.Analyzing leadership, committee, and procedural restructuring in four periods (1890-1910, 1919-1932, 1937-1952, and 1970-1989), Schickler argues that coalitions promoting a wide range of member interests drive change in both the House and Senate. He shows that multiple interests determine institutional innovation within a period; that different interests are important in different periods; and, more broadly, that changes in the salient collective interests across time do not follow a simple logical or developmental sequence. Institutional development appears disjointed, as new arrangements are layered on preexisting structures intended to serve competing interests. An epilogue assesses the rise and fall of Newt Gingrich in light of these findings.Schickler's model of "disjointed pluralism" integrates rational choice theory with historical institutionalist approaches. It both complicates and advances efforts at theoretical synthesis by proposing a fuller, more nuanced understanding of institutional innovation--and thus of American political development and history.

Author Biography

Eric Schickler is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Acknowledgments xiii
Disjointed Pluralism and Institutional Change
Institutional Development, 1890-1910: An Experiment in Party Government
Institutional Development, 1919-1932: Cross-Party Coalitions, Bloc Government, and Republican Rule
Institutional Development, 1937-1952: The Conservative Coalition, Congress against the Executive, and Committee Government
Institutional Development, 1970-1989: A return to Party Government or the Triumph of Individualism?
Understanding Congressional Change
Epilogue Institutional Change in the 1990s 270(7)
Appendix A. Case Selection 277(4)
Appendix B. Votes Pertaining to Institutional Changes in Each Period 281(14)
Notes 295(34)
References 329(20)
Index 349

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