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date: 19 October 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This essay contends that the American states merit a more prominent place in the study of American political development for both substantive and methodological reasons. It illustrates how the study of the states provides a more comprehensive portrayal of American politics and its evolution, offering new insights into the dynamics of institutional change, the expansion and restriction of voting rights, and the shifting contours of the American welfare state. Moreover, the states’ combination of fundamental similarity and manageable variation makes them especially well suited for evaluating causal arguments. Developmental scholars have generally not taken full advantage of the states as a research venue, but carefully designed studies of state politics have the potential to illuminate broader questions of political development.

Keywords: state politics, federalism, institutional change, voting rights, welfare state

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