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Prevailing explanations of the US secession crisis trace the latter’s origins to slavery and slaveowners’ interests. The central problem with all such explanations…
Prevailing explanations of the US secession crisis trace the latter’s origins to slavery and slaveowners’ interests. The central problem with all such explanations, however, is that the Whig Party, the party of the largest slaveowners, opposed secession until the mid-1850s. Why did southern Whigs and their planter base resist secession through the political crisis over slavery only to fold by 1861? Drawing on archival electoral returns by precinct, party newspapers, speeches, and personal correspondence from antebellum Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, I argue for an institutional and sequential approach to the secession crisis that does not take social actors’ individual interests as given, but rather as naturalized and denaturalized in the back and forth struggle of political parties to advance competing solutions to the problem of preserving slavery.
Numerous commentators have suggested that Barack Obama represents a new “post-racial” politics in the United States, distinct from a pre-existing contentious form that…
Numerous commentators have suggested that Barack Obama represents a new “post-racial” politics in the United States, distinct from a pre-existing contentious form that originated with the civil rights era. Drawing on secondary historical data, Mr. Obama's presidential campaign speeches, and county-level electoral returns from Indiana and North Carolina, I argue in contrast to such claims that post-racial politics comprise the latest in a line of successive attempts by the Democratic Party to articulate the New Deal voting bloc, in which the white suburban middle class is the primary constituency while African Americans are of secondary importance. By addressing the question of “Obama and the Politics of Race” in this way, this chapter seeks to integrate political parties into the study of racial ideologies. Specifically, it suggests that the latter may originate and subsequently develop in the context of partisan struggle.
In this special section of Political Power and Social Theory, we present the work of scholars from various disciplines documenting and analyzing the Obama phenomenon. The…
In this special section of Political Power and Social Theory, we present the work of scholars from various disciplines documenting and analyzing the Obama phenomenon. The work in this section, including both theoretical and empirical analysis, is an early step in the much-needed academic discussion on Obama and racial politics in the contemporary United States. We offer this compendium as a call-to-arms to progressives and leftists, encouraging the revival of radical critique of Obama's discourse and policies instead of the fulsome praise or confused silence that has so far greeted Obama from the left.
This paper develops a new theory arguing that party change results from ruptures in political parties’ ties to civil society organizations. I demonstrate the utility of…
This paper develops a new theory arguing that party change results from ruptures in political parties’ ties to civil society organizations. I demonstrate the utility of this approach by using it to explain why the Rhode Island Democratic Party (RIDP) changed from a hierarchical machine to a porous political field occupied by multiple interlegislator cliques and brokered by extra-party political organizations and professionals. While others attribute party change to bureaucratization, electoral demand, or system-level changes, I analyze historical, observational, and interview data to find that a severance in the RIDP’s relationship with organized labor prompted party change by causing power to diffuse outward as leadership lost control over nominations and the careers of elected office holders. In the spaces that remained, interest groups and political professionals came to occupy central positions within the party field, serving as brokers of the information and relationships necessary to coordinate legislative activity. This analysis refines existing theories of party change and provides a historically-grounded explanation for the institutionalization of interest groups and political professionals in American party politics.
Moore (1966) once argued that the American Civil War was a fundamentally “bourgeois” revolution. As such, Moore's account falls in line with much of the larger literature…
Moore (1966) once argued that the American Civil War was a fundamentally “bourgeois” revolution. As such, Moore's account falls in line with much of the larger literature on democratization, which emphasizes the class dimensions of democratic expansions and transitions, but is largely silent on how party politics are implicated in those processes. Such approaches miss a great deal of the party, inter-elite and discursive dynamics that are crucial to understanding the origins and consequences of democratic change. This chapter seeks to discern the impact of mass party formation and political discourse on modern routes to democracy through an examination of mid-19th-century Chicago politics. It holds to Moore's conclusion that the American Civil War was indeed a bourgeois revolution, while demonstrating that the trajectory of party politics before, during and after the war challenges Moore's interpretation of how class forces were mobilized in the American case. Partisan shifts, for example, worked at turns to weaken and strengthen the rhetorical and organizational basis of working-class mobilization, suggesting that democratization and the class coalitions that give rise to it are shaped and re-shaped by the context of partisan struggle.
In recent decades, it has become clear that the major economic, political, and social problems in the world require contemporary development research to examine…
In recent decades, it has become clear that the major economic, political, and social problems in the world require contemporary development research to examine intersections of race and class in the global economy. Theorists in the Black Radical Tradition (BRT) were the first to develop and advance a powerful research agenda that integrated race–class analyses of capitalist development. However, over time, progressive waves of research streams in development studies have successively stripped these concepts from their analyses. Post-1950s, class analyses of development overlapped with some important features of the BRT, but removed race. Post-1990s, ethnicity-based analyses of development excised both race and class. In this chapter, I discuss what we learn about capitalist development using the integrated race–class analyses of the BRT, and how jettisoning these concepts weakens our understanding of the political economy of development. To remedy our current knowledge gaps, I call for applying insights of the BRT to our analyses of the development trajectories of nations.
Charter schools are an increasingly popular form of publicly funded school choice. Racially framed as a policy to narrow academic achievement and opportunity gaps, charter…
Charter schools are an increasingly popular form of publicly funded school choice. Racially framed as a policy to narrow academic achievement and opportunity gaps, charter schools disproportionately serve Black and Latinx students. In 2016, “lifting the cap” on the number of charter schools allowed in Massachusetts became an intensely fought ballot referendum. Drawing on racial formation and resource mobilization theories, I argue that resources developed and mobilized in political campaigns or social movements have analytically relevant racial dimensions. They are “racial resources” or value-producing entities that are imbued with meaning about race categories, racial systems, and/or racial ideologies. The anti-expansion’s interracial coalition was a decisive factor in the campaign, because the coalition implemented a shared decision-making structure to develop a more robust and ideologically consistent strategy for mobilizing their racial resources. These resources include a local base of racially diverse spokespeople who brought key cultural resources – legitimacy, authenticity, and trust – to the campaign, as well as race-conscious and race-neutral message framing.
This year's volume of Political Power and Social Theory marks the end of my tenure as Editor. I thank the editorial board and all our dedicated readers for making this journal a leading venue for high quality scholarship in comparative and historical social science. I look forward to seeing the series continue under new leadership. The upcoming articles explore a variety of questions relating to states, citizenship and power, common themes examined with divergent analytical entry points and through deep knowledge of country cases as diverse as Russia, Germany, the United States, Israel, South Africa, Argentina and key nations in early modern Europe. Whether examined with a focus on revolutions and political parties, or cities and their physical and social transformation, or through development of the concept of the “familial state,” which marries a preoccupation with lineage and micro-cultures to that of national-state institutions, these articles expand our theoretical and methodological imagination of how citizens become included or excluded in local and national structures of power.