American Politics and Society 7e
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David McKay is Professor of Government at the University of Essex. He is the author of numerous books and articles on American and comparative politics, including Designing Europe: Comparative Lessons from the Federal Experience (2001, winner of the Political Studies Association WJM MacKenzie prize for the best book published in 2001). He is the co-author of The New British Politics (2007).


List of Plates.

List of Figures.

List of Tables.

Preface to the Seventh Edition.

1 Government and the People in a Polarized Society.

The Chapters to Come.

2 Beliefs, Values and American Society.

The Nature of American Beliefs and Values.

Values and American Society.

Social Structure.

3 Constitutional Government.


The American Constitution.


The Adaptive Constitution.

Assessing the Constitution.

4 Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.

Federalism in Theory and Practice.

The Evolution of American Federalism.

The Changing Federal Role.

A Changing Court Role?

The Future of American Federalism.

5 American Political Parties in Transition.

The Functions of Parties.

Crisis and Change in the American Party System.

The Decline and Rise of Political Parties.

Changing Party Ideology: 1970–2010.

Explaining Party Change.

Political Parties Redux.

6 Elections and Political Participation.

Patterns of American Electoral Behaviour.

The ‘American Voter’ Model and the New Deal Coalition.

The Decline of the New Deal Coalition and the Rise of a Divided Electorate.

Non-Electoral Political Participation.

7 The Media and American Politics.

Media Structure and Organization.

Organization and Ownership.

How Biased? The Media and the Political Agenda.

Controlling the Media.

The Media and American Democracy.

8 Congress I: The People’s Branch?

Representation and Congress.

Congressional Elections.

Legislators as Rational Actors.

The Work of Member of Congress.


9 Congress II: Functions and Powers – The Broken Branch?

The Functions of Congress.

The Structure of Power in Congress.

Congress Under Fire.

Reform and Change in Congress.

Is Congress the Broken ‘Branch’?

10 The Presidency I: Powers and Selection.

Formal Sources of Power.

Informal Powers.

Presidential Selection.

Presidential Selection: Faults and Foibles.

11 The Presidency II: The President as Chief Executive.

The Presidency in a Changing America.

Presidential Abuse of Power and the Congressional Response.

Presidential Resources.

Assessing the Presidency: Presidential Power at Home and Abroad.

12 Bureaucratic Power: Federal Departments and Agencies.

The Federal Bureaucracy: Organization and Function.

The Bureaucracy: How Uncontrollable?

The Inherent Power of Bureaucracy.

The Bureaucratic Hydra: A Uniquely American Phenomenon?

Reform Attempts.

Concluding Remarks.

13 The Security State.

The Rise of the Security State.

9/11, the Patriot Act, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Threats to Civil Liberties.

The Security State and American Values.

14 Organized Interests: The Real Power?

Interests, Groups and Lobbyists.

Economic Groups.

Professional Groups.

Promotional Groups.

Political Action Committees.

The Washington Lobby.

Interest Groups: For and Against.

15 The Supreme Court and Judicial Politics.

The American Legal System.

The Supreme Court: Decision-Making.

The Supreme Court and Political Power.

The Polarized and Activist Rehnquist and Roberts Courts.

Conclusions: The Court and American Democracy.

16 Regulating Morality: Civil Rights, Liberties and the Conscience Issues.


Regulating Public Morality.

Civil Liberties.

Equality and Civil Rights.


17 Social Policy in America: Self-Reliance and State Dependence.

The Federal Government and Social Welfare in America: The Reluctant Provider.


Social Security, Medicare and the Electoral Connection.

The Continuing Importance of Self-Reliance.

Health-Care Reforms.

The Federal Government and Education.


18 Managing Economic Change.

State and Economy in the United States.

Ideology and Economic Policy.

Institutions and Economic Policy.

Conclusions: Economic Policy in an Age of Uncertainty.

19 Environmental Politics.


The Emerging Environmental Agenda.

Policy Actors and Institutions.


Political Parties and the Environment.

Conclusions: The Future of Environmental Politics.

20 The American World Role.

The Institutional Context.

American Foreign Policy in the Post-9/11 World.

Conclusions: Bound to Lead or Bound to Fail?

21 The American Political System in an Uncertain World.

Assessing the American Polity.

Reform and Renewal.



Appendix: The Constitution of the United States.



"This text is a lucid introduction to how American politics works but it offers so much more by providing the social, economic and historical context that shapes the American polity allowing us to understand how politics changes in the United States."
John G Francis, University of Utah

"There's simply nothing like this text on the market. McKay has been consistently up to date in terms of dealing with the changes in US politics, up to the mark in integrating the best scholarship on US politics and up to the job of meeting both tutor and student demands. Authoritative, accessible and sophisticated, this book has become an integral foundation for teaching US politics"
Paul Taggart, University of Sussex