Study Guide for Politics in America

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  • Edition: 6th
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2005-01-01
  • Publisher: Pearson College Div
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For courses in American Government and Texas Politics.This balanced and exceedingly readable text uses Harold Laswell's classic definition of politics "Who gets what, when, and how" as a framework for presenting a clear, concise, and stimulating introduction to the American political system. Updated with discussions of recent events in our country, well-known political scientist Tom Dye has written a lively and absorbing narrative examining the struggle for power: the participants, the stakes, the processes, and the institutional arenas. An abundance of feature boxes explore timely issues and opinions, draw cross-cultural comparisons, and introduce important people.

Table of Contents

Politics: Who Gets What, When, and How
Political Culture: Ideas in Conflict
The Constitution: Limiting Governmental Power
Federalism: Dividing Governmental Power
Opinion and Participation: Thinking and Acting in Politics
Mass Media: Setting the Political Agenda
Political Parties: Organizing Politics
Campaigns and Elections: Deciding Who Governs
Interest Groups: Getting Their Share and More
Congress: Politics on Capitol Hill
The President: White House Politics
The Bureaucracy: Bureaucratic Politics
Courts: Judicial Politics
Politics and Personal Liberty
Politics and Civil Rights
Politics and the Economy
Politics and Social Welfare
Politics and National Security
Texas Politics
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.


Politics is an activity by which people try to get more of whatever there is to get. It is not about the pursuit of liberty as much as it is about the struggle over the allocation of values in society. Simply put, it is about "who gets what, when, and how." By using Lasswell's classic definition of politics as the unifying framework,Politics in America, Sixth Edition,strives to present a clear, concise, and stimulating introduction to the American political system. Politics consists of all of the activities--reasonable discussion, impassioned oratory, campaigning, balloting, fund raising, advertising, lobbying, demonstrating, rioting, street fighting, and waging war--by which conflict is carried on. Managing conflict is the principal function of the political system and power is the ultimate goal. By examining the struggle for power--the participants, the stakes, the processes, and the institutional arenas--Politics in America, Sixth Edition,introduces students to the politics that is the basis for our democracy. Why Politics in America? Instructors teaching the Introductory American Government course find engaging their students to be the most difficult task facing them.Politics in America, Sixth Edition,is written to be lively and absorbing, reflecting the teaching philosophy thatstimulating students' interest in politics and public affairs is the most important goal of an introductory course.Interesting examples and controversial debates spark students' interest and keep them connected to the material. The struggle for power in society is not a dull topic, and textbooks should not make it so. Politics in America, Sixth Edition,strives for a balanced presentation, but "balanced" does not mean boring. It does not mean the avoidance of controversy. Liberal and conservative arguments are set forth clearly and forcefully. Race and gender are given particular attention, not because it is currently fashionable to do so, but because American politics has long been driven by these factors. As in previous editions, the trademark of this book continues to be its desire to pull students into the debate that is our political system. Organization Part I, "Politics," begins with Lasswell's classic definition of politics and proceeds to describe the nature and functions of government and the meaning of democracy. It poses the question. How democratic is the American political system? It describes the American political culture: its contradictions between liberty and conformity, political equality and economic inequality, equality of opportunity and inequality of results, the role of ideology--liberalism and conservatism, thus laying the groundwork for understanding the struggle over who gets what. Part II, "Constitution," describes the politics of constitution making--deciding how to decide. It describes how the struggle over the U.S. Constitution reflected the distribution of power in the new nation. It focuses on the classic arguments of the Founders for limiting and dividing governmental power and the structural arrangements designed to accomplish this end. Part III, "Participants," begins by examining individual participation in politics--the way people acquire and hold political opinions and act on them through voting and protest activity. It examines the influences of family, school, gender, race, and the role of media in shaping political opinion. It describes how organization concentrates power--to win public office in the case of party organizations, and to influence policy in the case of interest groups. It assesses the role of personal ambition in politics and the role of money. Part IV, "Institutions," describes the various governmental arenas in which the struggle for power takes place--the Congress, the presidency, the bureaucracy, the courts. More import

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