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101 Chambers

Congress, State Legislatures, and the Future of Legislative Studies

Peverill Squire, Keith E. Hamm

Publication Year: 2005

Although legislative studies is thriving, it suffers from one glaring weakness: a lack of truly comparative, cross-institutional research. Instead, research focuses overwhelmingly on the U.S. Congress. This unfortunate fixation limits the way scholars approach the testing of many compelling theories of legislative organization and behavior, and it ignores the invaluable research possibilities that comparison with the 99 American state legislative chambers offers. State legislatures are easily compared to Congress: They arise out of the same political culture and history. Their members represent the same parties and face the same voters in the same elections using the same rules. And the functions and roles are the same, with each fully capable of initiating, debating, and passing legislation. None of the methodological problems found when comparing presidential system legislatures with parliamentary system legislatures arise when comparing Congress and the state legislatures. However, while there are great similarities, there are also important differences that provide scholars leverage for rigorously testing theories. The book compares and contrasts Congress and the state legislatures on histories, fundamental structures, institutional and organizational characteristics, and members. By highlighting the vast array of organizational schemes and behavioral patterns evidenced in state legislatures, the authors demonstrate that the potential for the study of American legislatures, as opposed to the separate efforts of Congressional and state legislative scholars, is too great to leave unexplored.

Published by: The Ohio State University Press

Series: Parliaments and Legislatures

Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction

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pp. 1-4

The legislative studies subfield of political science is thriving. More than 650 articles dealing with legislatures appeared in ten leading political science journals between 1995 and 2000 (Hamm 2001).1 Much of this work is among the most methodologically advanced and theoretically sophisticated in the discipline. ...

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1. The Lineage of American Legislatures

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pp. 5-34

When we look at American legislatures today, we usually emphasize their differences. Congress is seen as contrasting greatly with state legislatures. And, in turn, the considerable differences among state legislatures are noted. These divergencies across legislative institutions are real, yet our focus on them often obscures their substantial similarities. ...

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2. Fundamental Structures

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pp. 35-66

In chapter 1 we established that American legislatures germinated from the same seeds. In chapter 2 we examined questions of constitutional design, to begin exploring how over time American legislatures came to look so different from each other. We continue that exploration in this chapter. More specifically, we look at the basic components of legislative professionalization: ...

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3. Institutional Characteristics

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pp. 67-98

In chapter 1 we established that American legislatures germinated from the same seeds. In chapter 2 we examined questions of constitutional design, to begin exploring how over time American legislatures came to look so different from each other. We continue that exploration in this chapter. More specifically, we look at the basic components of legislative professionalization: ...

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4. Organizational Characteristics

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pp. 99-127

We take organizational characteristics to include leadership, political parties, committees, and procedures. As noted in chapter 2, constitutional provisions establish some of these characteristics, but legislators have created most over time. Each characteristic is a central component in current theories of legislative organization and behavior. ...

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5. Legislators and Legislative Careers

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pp. 128-145

The first four chapters focused on the structures and organization of American legislatures, paying particular attention to how they change over time and how they compare across chambers. In this chapter we turn our attention to the members of American legislatures and their political careers. ...

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6. Concluding Thoughts on American Legislatures in Comparison

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pp. 146-152

Almost all of the best and most interesting theories about legislative organization and behavior in recent years were developed with Congress in mind (really, the House of Representatives) and tested with congressional data (meaning, again, the House). Although these theories are couched in general terms, the generic legislators about whom they theorize almost always exist in legislatures that take on the peculiar characteristics of Congress. ...

Notes

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pp. 153-168

References

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pp. 169-192

Index

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pp. 193-210

Other Titles in the Series

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E-ISBN-13: 9780814272923
E-ISBN-10: 0814272924
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814209387
Print-ISBN-10: 0814209386

Page Count: 209
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Parliaments and Legislatures
Series Editor Byline: Edited by Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier and David T. Canon See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 899262104
MUSE Marc Record: Download for 101 Chambers

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Legislative bodies -- United States -- States.
  • Representative government and representation -- United States -- States.
  • United States. Congress.
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