Historical Approaches to the Study of Congress: Toward a Congressional Vantage on American Political Development

Ira Katznelson

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199559947
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

 Historical Approaches to the Study of Congress: Toward a Congressional Vantage on American Political Development

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This article evaluates the status of historical approaches to the study of Congress. It focuses on the intersection of Congress and American Political Development (APD). It particularly traces missed changes, how the advantageous substantive and methodological conditions created in the past decade might be captured and seized to achieve the goal John Lapinski and the author of this chapter have set half a decade ago: to make the “study of Congress as an institution and as a site for discussion, behavior, and choice on public policy a more constitutive part of ADP”. Both the author and John Lapinski argued that the secondary place of Congress within ADP has proved to be paradoxical and expensive: paradoxical because political representation as a concept and as an institutional practice offers a rich site to investigate the temporality and the qualities of political liberalism in America; and expensive because Congress has always been a constitutive part of the American state specifically in its role in the policy process. Building a closer relationship between congressional studies and ADP is significant for without the thematic integration ADP offers, historical studies of Congress run the risk of being insufficiently focused and scattered, hence losing a coherent vantage point from which to understand the trajectories of American politics.

Keywords: historical approaches; study of Congress; Congress; American Political Development; American politics; public policy; political representation; political liberalism; policy process

Article.  10837 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Institutions

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