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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Political Science

Dr. Wellhofer teaches at an alumni symposium

Department of Political Science

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Faculty News & Publications

Dr. Seth Masket's The Inevitable Party 

Dr. Masket New Book The Inevitable Party is a study of anti-party reforms and why they fail. Numerous reform movements over the past century have designated parties as the enemy of democracy, and they have found a willing ally in the American people in their efforts to rein in and occasionally root out parties. Masket investigates several of these anti-party reform efforts - from open primaries to campaign finance restrictions to nonpartisan legislatures - using legislative roll call votes, campaign donations patterns, and extensive interviews with local political elites. These cases each demonstrate parties adapting to, and sometimes thriving amidst, reforms designed to weaken or destroy them. The reason for these reforms' failures, the book argues, is that they proceed from an incorrect conception of just what a party is. Parties are not rigid structures that can be wished or legislated away; they are networks of creative and adaptive policy demanders who use their influence to determine just what sorts of people get nominated for office. Even while these reforms tend to fail, however, they impose considerable costs on society, usually reducing transparency and accountability in politics and government.

Dr. Josh Wilson's  The New States of Abortion
Dr. Wilson's New Book
The 2014 Supreme Court ruling on McCullen v. Coakley striking down a Massachusetts law regulating anti-abortion activism marked the reengagement of the Supreme Court in abortion politics. A throwback to the days of clinic-front protests, the decision seemed a means to reinvigorate the old street politics of abortion. The Court's ruling also highlights the success of a decades' long effort by anti-abortion activists to transform the very politics of abortion. The New States of Abortion Politics, written by leading scholar Joshua C. Wilson, tells the story of this movement, from streets to legislative halls to courtrooms. With the end of clinic-front activism, lawyers and politicians took on the fight. Anti-abortion activists moved away from a doomed frontal assault on Roe v. Wade and adopted an incremental strategy—putting anti-abortion causes on the offensive in friendly state forums and placing reproductive rights advocates on the defense in the courts. The Supreme Court ruling on Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016 makes the stakes for abortion politics higher than ever. This book elucidates how—and why.

Elizabeth Sperber at the Pew Forum in Washington D.C.

Dr. Sperber was invited to present part of her book project on the relation between party politics and the rise of Pentecostalism as a politically salient identity in sub-Saharan Africa at the Pew Forum in Washington D.C.

Dr. Sperber's review of Robert Dowd's Book, Christianity, Islam, and Liberal Democracy: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015) is forthcoming in Politics and Religion, the Journal of the Politics and Religion section of the American Political Science Association.