Multiple Theoretical Traditions in American Politics and Racial Policy Inequality

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The American (national) political tradition emphasizes three major strands of thought (Smith 1993, 1997). Grasping the importance, interrelationships, and potential tensions of these multiple traditions is central to understanding American politics, and perhaps especially so concerning issues of racial equality. This article first delineates the philosophical traditions as they are manifested in major research on American state politics. It then examines the consequences of those traditions, especially the two generally viewed as the most prominent in American politics - civic republicanism and liberalism - for several indicators of public policy that directly address racial equality. The evidence considered strongly suggests that research emerging from the two major traditions overlooks an important side of American politics, that concerning racial inequality (ascriptive hierarchy). Also, the argument underscores the importance of proper attention to multiple traditions, generally, and race, specifically, in American (state) politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-408
Number of pages8
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiple Theoretical Traditions in American Politics and Racial Policy Inequality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this