Historical Institutionalism, Political Development, and the Presidency

Scott C. James

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Presidency

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199238859
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

 Historical Institutionalism, Political Development, and the Presidency

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This article starts by addressing historical institutionalism and American political development (APD) as analytic approaches to the study of politics. It explores the presidency's distinctive contribution to the politics of regime change. It then deals with the historically changing modalities of governance, isolating developmentally significant moments in the evolution of presidential politics. It separately examines the evolution of ‘plebiscitary politics’ and the rise of an ‘administrative presidency’. Additionally, it argues that a phrase like ‘the political development of the American presidency’ — or any single institution for that matter — is conceptually misguided. By understanding more fully the unique properties and political standing of the concept of presidency, and by examining its changing interface with other rivals for political authority, theorists find themselves in a better position to theorize its manifold contributions to political change.

Keywords: historical institutionalism; American political development; American presidency; governance; plebiscitary politics; administrative presidency

Article.  14126 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Comparative Politics

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