American Government : Political Development and Institutional Change book cover
11th Edition

American Government
Political Development and Institutional Change

ISBN 9781003041764
Published January 21, 2021 by Routledge
678 Pages 220 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

How politics in America works today, how it got that way, and how it’s likely to change through reform—these are the themes that pervade every chapter of Cal Jillson’s highly lauded American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change. Even in the midst of current challenges, America’s past is present in all aspects of the contemporary political system. Jillson uses political development and the dynamics of change as a thematic tool to help students understand how politics works now—and how institutions, participation, and policies have evolved over time to produce the contemporary political environment. In addition, Jillson helps students think critically about how American democracy might evolve further, focusing in every chapter on reform and further change.

New to the 11th Edition

  • Provides a broad assessment of the Trump presidency, of the impact on the Supreme Court of Associate Justice Neal Gorsuch’s and Brett Kavanaugh’s appointments, and of the remarkable 2018 and 2020 election cycles.
  • Describes numerous ways in which the American political system has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic struggles caused by it, and the social protests in which the Black Lives Matter movement has played such a visible role.

  • Assesses the implication of "fake news" for our politics, both as it exists in fact and as it is used as a political cudgel.
  • Details the impact that President Trump’s "America First" policies have had on the National Security Strategy of the United States and the U.S. place in the post-World War II international order.
  • Updates all data in tables and figures through the 2020 elections and includes many new photos and chapter opening vignettes.

• Includes new and revised special features among The Constitution Today, Pro/Con, and Let’s Compare boxes.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Origins of American Political Principles  Chapter 2 The Revolution and the Constitution  Chapter 3 Federalism and American Political Development  Chapter 4 Political Socialization and Public Opinion  Chapter 5 The Mass Media and the Political Agenda  Chapter 6 Interest Groups: The Politics of Influence  Chapter 7 Political Parties: Winning the Right to Govern  Chapter 8 Voting, Campaigns, And Elections  Chapter 9 Congress: Partisanship, Polarization, and Gridlock  Chapter 10 The President: Governing in Uncertain Times  Chapter 11 Bureaucracy: Redesigning Government for the Twenty-First Century  Chapter 12 The Federal Courts: Activism Versus Restraint  Chapter 13 Civil Liberties: Ordered Liberty in America  Chapter 14 Civil Rights: Where Liberty and Equality Collide  Chapter 15 Government, the Economy, and Domestic Policy  Chapter 16 America’s Global Role in the Twenty-First Century  Glossary of Key Terms  Glossary of Cases  Appendix A The Declaration of Independence  Appendix B The Articles of the Confederation  Appendix C Constitution of the United States  Appendix D Federalist Numbers 10, 51, And 78  Appendix E Partisan Control of the Presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court  Index


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Cal Jillson is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Southern Methodist University. His recent books include Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy; Texas Politics: Governing the Lone Star State; Pursuing the American Dream: Opportunity and Exclusion Over Four Centuries; Pathways to Democracy: The Political Economy of Democratic Transitions; and The Dynamics of American Politics. Jillson is a frequent media commentator on Texas and national politics.



This terrific textbook will help students get to the bottom of the mysteries of the American government and why it has been so difficult for Americans to work together for the common good. Cal Jillson expertly shows us how our past shapes our current political path, from Black Lives Matter to the legalization of marijuana, voter ID, mass shootings, and the historic election of 2016.

David B. Robertson, University of Missouri-St. Louis

The coverage of social movements is especially unique—most texts I’ve read do not go this far in-depth into the history and tactics of social movements, so important at this time. Also, I’ve found that students often have difficulty remembering court cases. Throughout the text, the author offers additional narrative to court cases that makes them more human and memorable. By providing the stories behind these cases, students are better able to remember them and see their importance in American politics. The same is true of the "Constitution Today" feature—a nice way to highlight how history shapes our reality now. Too often, students see the Constitution and Founding as trivia, with little connection to how we continue to struggle with the same controversies today. It’s nice that this feature is revisited in each chapter to drive home the point that the debates surrounding the Constitution over 200 years ago are still important today.

Lauren R. Elliott-Dorans, Ohio University

Clear, comprehensive, and concise, this is no doubt the best American government text on the market today.

Christopher Malone, Pace University

The ideals that Jillson so thoroughly includes in this text are straight down the middle and do not in any way cater to the right or left, which is a refreshing idea in today’s educational world. An A+ for government classes everywhere!

Drew Mowen, Ft. Scott Community College

This book truly stands apart from the vast crowd of introductory American politics textbooks.

Shamira M. Gelbman, Illinois State University

This text is accessible and well-written with a nice amount of historical/institutional background. It does a very good job of offering students a sense of why we do things one way rather than another in historical terms. I think the author’s clear writing is one of the text’s most attractive features.

Thomas Hoffman, Spring Hill College

A book that connects the political challenges of today to the political conflicts of the past.

Jonathan Chausovsky, SUNY Fredonia

Most of my students are non-majors. They walk into the course expecting to be bored. Jillson’s text helps them get over that. I've considered many textbooks over the years and this is clearly the right one for me.

Keith Dougherty, University of Georgia