The Substance of Representation: Congress, American Political Development, and Lawmaking

Overview

"Students of Congress think they are studying what government does when they examine roll call votes. In this powerful and original contribution to legislative and policy studies and American political development, John Lapinski shows otherwise. The substance of policy?what sorts of laws members of Congress are voting on?makes an enormous difference for theory, method, American political history, and our conclusions about how Congress works."?Jacob S. Hacker, Yale University

"I salute John Lapinski for this ...

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The Substance of Representation: Congress, American Political Development, and Lawmaking

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Overview

"Students of Congress think they are studying what government does when they examine roll call votes. In this powerful and original contribution to legislative and policy studies and American political development, John Lapinski shows otherwise. The substance of policy—what sorts of laws members of Congress are voting on—makes an enormous difference for theory, method, American political history, and our conclusions about how Congress works."—Jacob S. Hacker, Yale University

"I salute John Lapinski for this innovative work on American lawmaking. The book offers deft history, a good measure of the significance of laws, and a helpful categorization of laws by substantive area. In a welcome move, it annexes Congress to the study of American political development."—David Mayhew, author of Partisan Balance

"The Substance of Representation is a provocative book. Lapinski urges scholars to incorporate the substance of policy into models of lawmaking and shows us with impressive historical sweep how this can be fruitfully done."—Sarah Binder, George Washington University

"This important book will force scholars to adopt a higher standard of analysis when discussing policymaking in the American system. It challenges the power and accuracy of a widely used measure of ideological roll call voting. And by collecting, coding, and categorizing all major public laws over a vast period of history, this book provides a rich and comprehensive look at how U.S. policies have been enacted in key issue areas."—Wendy Schiller, Brown University

"Making several vital contributions to the historical study of the U.S. Congress, this book develops a theoretically grounded system for coding the substance of laws and roll calls, lays out the best measure of legislative significance in the field and applies it across 120 years of American political history, and tests the sources of legislative productivity across distinct substantive policy domains."—Eric Schickler, University of California, Berkeley

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lapinski develops a new tool kit to measure and analyze an expansive set of legislation and lawmakers' policy preferences from 1877 to 2010. His key contribution to the study of the American national legislature is his coding approach and the data development, which develops a deeper understanding of lawmaking. Through these, Lapinski offers findings about polarization, elite leadership in Congress, and the influence and impact of members of Congress and their policy preferences across different areas. This work will certainly contribute to developing a new discussion within the legislative studies field and give future political scientists new possibilities of expanding the research in the area."—Choice
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Product Details

Meet the Author

John S. Lapinski is associate professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and the deputy director of elections at NBC News. He is the coeditor of "The Macropolitics of Congress" (Princeton).

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Chapter I Policy Issue Substance and the Revitalization of Legislative Studies 1

  • Why We Need to Restore Policy Issue Substance to Congressional Studies 4
  • A Natural Connection: Congressional Studies, American Political Development, and Policy Studies 12
  • The Organization of the Book 14

Chapter II Bringing Policy Issue Substance Back In 19

  • Pitfalls of the Substantive Tradition 20
  • Introducing a New Policy Classification Schema 24
  • Conclusion 41
  • Appendix: Coding Schema 41

Chapter III Political Polarization and Issues: A New Perspective 54

  • Estimating Induced Preferences of Members of Congress 55
  • Political Polarization and Policy Issue Substance 57
  • House and Senate Party Unity Scores, 1877-2011 58
  • Disaggregating Political Polarization 60
  • Conclusion 64
  • Appendix 65

Chapter IV The Case Studies: Policy Issue Substance and the Political Behavior of Members of Congress (with David Bateman) 69

  • Reassessing the 95th Congress 69
  • The Case Studies: Examining Sovereignty Policy across Time 74
  • Conclusion 102
  • Appendix 103

Chapter V Legislative Accomplishment and Policy Issue Substance 104

  • Needed: Direct Measures of Legislative Accomplishment 105
  • Measuring Legislative Significance 106
  • Constructing Macro-Level Measures of Legislative Accomplishment 128
  • Conclusion 132

Chapter VI Explaining Lawmaking in the United States, 1877-1994 133

  • Critical Hypotheses and Covariates of Lawmaking 134
  • Empirically Analyzing Lawmaking 138
  • Conclusion 149

Chapter VII At the Crossroads: Policy Issue Substance, Congress, and American Political Development 150

  • Ideas for American Political Development 152
  • Ideas for Congressional Studies 159

Bibliography 161
Index 171

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