Lawmaking is crucial to American democracy because it completely defines and regulates the public life of the nation. Yet despite its importance, political scientists spend very little time studying the direct impact that the politics surrounding a particular issue has on lawmaking. The Substance of Representation draws on a vast range of historical and empirical data to better understand how lawmaking works across different policy areas. Specifically, John Lapinski introduces a theoretically grounded method for parsing policy issues into categories, and he shows how policymaking varies in predictable ways based on the specific issue area being addressed.
Lapinski examines the ways in which key factors that influence policymaking matter for certain types of policy issues, and he includes an exhaustive look at how elite political polarization shifts across these areas. He considers how Congress behaves according to the policy issue at hand, and how particular areas--such as war, sovereignty issues, and immigration reform--change legislative performance. Relying on records of all Congressional votes since Reconstruction and analyzing voting patterns across policy areas from the late nineteenth to late twentieth centuries, Lapinski provides a comprehensive historical perspective on lawmaking in order to shed light on current practices.
Giving a clear picture of Congressional behavior in the policymaking process over time, The Substance of Representation provides insights into the critical role of American lawmaking.
John S. Lapinski is associate professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and the deputy director of elections at NBC News. He is the coeditor of The Macropolitics of Congress (Princeton).
"Students of Congress think they are studying what government does when they examine roll call votes. In this powerful and original contribution to legislative and policy studies and American political development, John Lapinski shows otherwise. The substance of policy--what sorts of laws members of Congress are voting on--makes an enormous difference for theory, method, American political history, and our conclusions about how Congress works."--Jacob S. Hacker, Yale University
"I salute John Lapinski for this innovative work on American lawmaking. The book offers deft history, a good measure of the significance of laws, and a helpful categorization of laws by substantive area. In a welcome move, it annexes Congress to the study of American political development."--David Mayhew, author of Partisan Balance
"The Substance of Representation is a provocative book. Lapinski urges scholars to incorporate the substance of policy into models of lawmaking and shows us with impressive historical sweep how this can be fruitfully done."--Sarah Binder, George Washington University
"This important book will force scholars to adopt a higher standard of analysis when discussing policymaking in the American system. It challenges the power and accuracy of a widely used measure of ideological roll call voting. And by collecting, coding, and categorizing all major public laws over a vast period of history, this book provides a rich and comprehensive look at how U.S. policies have been enacted in key issue areas."--Wendy Schiller, Brown University
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by John S. Lapinski: