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Suggested Reading

Dahl, Robert. Democracy and Its Critics. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1989.

This scholarly text addresses criticisms and critics of democracy. Dahl has been a forceful defender of American democracy for decades, and his writings influence many scholars and researchers.

Dionne, E. J., Jr. Why Americans Hate Politics: The Death of the Democratic Process. Reprint, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.

A study of American politics and participation in political processes in the mid- to late twentieth century. Dionne concludes that Americans hate politics and therefore should go beyond standard liberal and conservative ideologies.

Delli Carpini, Michael X., and Scott Keeter. What Americans Know About Politics and Why It Matters. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1996.

A study of the problems of political ignorance.

Huntington, Samuel P. American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981.

Most famous for his theory of the clash of cultures, here Huntington looks at American politics.

Lipset, Seymour Martin. American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword. New York: Norton, 1996.

Interesting and potentially controversial arguments about how Americans view themselves as blessed and unique in the world.

Nye, Joseph S., Sr., Philip D. Zelikow, and David C. King, eds. Why People Don’t Trust Government. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997.

A number of scholars examine the problem of political cynicism, reaching different conclusions about its meaning for the American polity.

Putnam, Robert. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.

Political cultures of other democratic states differ greatly from American political culture. Putnam studies the political culture of Italy and how it affects the Italian version of democracy.

Schuck, Peter H. Diversity in America: Keeping Government at a Safe Distance. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard, 2003.

This book examines the ways diversity helps and hurts the national interest.

Useful Websites


The website of the Congressional Institute provides rich survey data on American political culture; has resources for congresspeople, scholars, and students; maintains a blog; and collates other valuable information.


The nonpartisan, nongovernmental National Endowment for Democracy seeks to foster democracy around the world through grants, information, conferences, and literature


Sponsored by the University of Richmond and the Pew Charitable Trusts, this site provides up-to-date information about key policies and state politics throughout the United States.

Popular pages: American Political Culture