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This critical thinking approach to American government challenges students to evaluate the quality of democracy in America today within a unique framework that offers a holistic view of our system.

 

This unique text challenges students to think critically about American government and politics through the use of two compelling organizational themes. The first theme, “Using the Democracy Standard,” asks students to evaluate the health and vitality of American democracy today against a democratic ideal that is carefully defined in the first chapter, and revisited at the beginning and end of each subsequent chapter. The text's second theme, “Using the Framework,” offers students a tool for examining the political process at a variety of levels–from structural factors to political linkages, government institutions, and government policies–to help them consider how the interactions of these factors affect what government does (or doesn’t) do.  Both themes are revisited in each chapter, as well as woven throughout the narrative, and highlighted in new marginal critical thinking questions that challenge students to consider the impact of governmental policies and processes on democracy, and vice-versa.

 

The ninth edition of this best-selling text will be updated throughout with the results of the 2008 Presidential and Congressional election results and the latest political issues and events, as well as deeper discussions of social and economic policy and political parties and participation.

 

From the Back Cover:

Features:

  • The text’s critical thinking approach to politics, its features, and its narrative are designed to teach students to look closely, question logically, and think critically about the American Political process.
  • A unique analytical framework presented in the first chapter illustrates the interactions between underlying structural factors—the economy, society, cultural values, etc.–and our political system. This framework offers a holistic view of our system.
  • A “democratic ideal” is carefully outlined in the first chapter, giving students a “yardstick” with which to measure aspects of our system–our congress, our elections, our policies, and evaluate how democratic they are.
  • “Using the Democracy Standard” boxes offer a proposition on an engaging aspect of our system, related to our relative democratic state.  Students can then actively evaluate how democratic our system is by reading the pro/con arguments for the proposition and exploring the critical thinking questions. 
  • “Using the Framework” boxes help students see how the framework outlined in the first chapter can be used to answer questions about why things work as they do in our system. Each box poses a provocative question about American Government action–from the failure of Social Security reform to the invasion of Iraq in 2003–and then uses the analytic framework to show the underlying link among structural factors, political linkages, government, and government action. 
  • “By the Numbers” boxes enable students to grapple effectively with the numerical information–statistics or poll numbers–that is pressed upon U.S. citizens everyday.  This feature–now included in each chapter–equips students to be good, critical consumers of numbers, and by extension, better, more informed citizens. 
  • “Mapping American Politics” boxes–now included in each chapter–use weighted maps to display and clarify statistical information about American politics and public policies.  The units of the maps are sized in proportion to the data being reported, giving students a unique and visual way to think critically about a range of issues. 
  • Superior diversity coverage remains a hallmark of the book, with integrated treatment of issues related to the changing population of the United States woven throughout.

 

New to this Edition:

  • New and reorganized chapters now offer more coverage in key areas: the former “Parties & Participation” chapter has been expanded into two chapters, “Political Parties” and “Political Participation;” the former “Domestic Policy” chapter will benefit from separate chapters on “Social Policy” and “The Budget and Economic Policy.”   
  • New Critical Thinking Questions are woven throughout chapters, prompting students to pause and consider different ways in which political foundations, activities, and policies interact–and how they affect the quality of democracy in the United States.
  • Expanded “By the Numbers” boxes–a popular feature that helps students see things from an objective, numerical or financial perspective–have been added throughout, with new topics including: the assessment of crowd sizes at political demonstrations, party identification statistics, and the foreign policy anxiety index; and aid to developing countries.This feature, which has been expanded in the ninth edition, shows students the stories behind the numbers that influence policies and public opinion.
  • Expanded “Mapping American Politics” boxes have been updated to include new weighted maps or “cartograms,” with new maps provided by WorldMapper.com and FreedomHouse.org, offering students a global perspective on American political issues and activities.
  • UPDATED throughout to include coverage of the historic 2008 Presidential and Congressional elections.
  • UPDATED Chapter Opening Vignettes highlight current issues ranging from the use of presidential signing statements to the mortgage crisis and recession of 2008, alongside classic examples such as public opinion during the Vietnam War and Robert Moses’ historic civil rights work.  Half of the vignettes are new; others have been updated and/or revised.
  • UPDATED Web Explorations appear at the end of each chapter to offer revised navigation and more instruction to students. New topics include 2008 Party platforms and presidential budget making.

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