University of Michigan Library

Democracy and Debate | 2021-22

Dialogues in Democracy

Collage of book covers in the Debate and Democracy collection and guide

Dialogues in Democracy is an interdisciplinary collection of University of Michigan Press books that explore the core tensions in American political culture. These tensions erupt every four years during the presidential election, but they also shape our daily experiences of democracy outside the voting booth. This dynamic reading list offers an opportunity for students to experience the richest, most comprehensive scholarship available today. Readers will find books that contextualize their own experiences of voting in America. They will also find big picture analyses of leadership, activism, and international pressures, as well as critiques of the democratic processes that control who gets to sit in the chair, and who gets to pull the lever.

Michigan Publishing originally created this collection to serve as a companion to the University of Michigan's Democracy and Debate teaching and learning efforts in the fall of 2020. Since then, the collection continues to evolve in conjunction with the university's ongoing Democracy and debate initiative in 2021-22, and as part of the Big Ten Collaboration, Democracy in the 21st Century. To read the titles, open the reading guide and click the title or cover of the book you wish to access, or use the links listed for the books below under the "Democracy" and "Debate" headings.

The Three Ages of Government: From the Person, to the Group, to the World

Jos C.N. Raadschelders

It is only in the last 250 years that ordinary people (in some parts of the world) have become citizens rather than subjects. This change happened in a very short period, between 1780 and 1820, a result of the foundations of democracy laid in the age of revolutions. A century later local governments embraced this shift due to rapid industrialization, urbanization, and population growth. During the twentieth century, all democratic governments began to perform a range of tasks, functions, and services that had no historical precedent. In the thirty years following the Second World War, Western democracies created welfare states that, for the first time in history, significantly reduced the gap between the wealthy and everyone else. Many of the reforms of that postwar period have been since rolled back because of the belief that government should be more like a business. Jos C.N. Raadschelders provides the information that all citizens should have about their connections to government, why there is a government, what it does, how it does it, and why we can no longer do without it. The Three Ages of Government rises above stereotypical thinking to show the centrality of government in human life.

Available via Open Access

This book is freely available in an open access edition thanks to TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem)—a collaboration of the Association of American Universities, the Association of University Presses, and the Association of Research Libraries—and the generous support of The Ohio State University Libraries. Learn more at the TOME website, available at:

Read Now »

Dialogues in Democracy: In Conversation

Limited Podcast Series

Listen to our political science authors debate key topics central to American democracy

Our limited podcast series brings several illuminating conversations to the University of Michigan campus. Each episode features a pair of authors bringing different perspectives to the table on issues of national, and international, concern: social policy, national security, racial justice, and leadership. Listen to the episodes below.

Learn More »

Books Highlighted:


Institutions, Organizations, Leadership, Policies

Caitlin E. Jewitt

Caitlin E. Jewitt is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Her research focus includes campaigns and elections, public opinion, political parties, and presidential primaries and caucuses. Listen to the podcast interview on her book 'The Primary Rules' below.

Gendered Vulnerability

Jeffrey Lazarus and Amy Steigerwalt

Book cover for 'Gendered Vulnerability: How Women Work Harder to Stay in Office' by Jeffrey Lazarus and Amy Steigerwalt. Illustration of the Capitol Building in the lower half of the image.

No matter the area of legislative activity, the underlying story is always the same: for any activity a member of Congress engages in that is designed to get the attention or win the affection of voters, female members simply do it more.

- Jeffrey Lazarus and Amy Steigerwalt

Three Main Electoral Hurdles

All women candidates, challengers and incumbents alike, face pervasive gender stereotypes; a greater likelihood of facing more and better-quality challengers; and media coverage that is low quality and more focused on women’s appearance and traits.

Gendered Behavior

Female officeholders, as compared to males, will concentrate more of their efforts on constituent-related activities and those that provide the highest reelection payoffs.

Producing Desired Effects

Through their work in office, women more faithfully represent all of their constituents' interests and needs than men, positively influencing their electability

This illuminating podcast episode from NPR's Hidden Brain uses research from Brian F. Schaffner, author of Campaign Finance and Political Polarization, explores the paradox of our passion for politics: we're more informed than ever, but many of us are also less politically active.

Carolyn Barnes

Carolyn Barnes is Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University. Her research agenda broadly explores the social and political implications of social policy on low-income populations in the areas of childcare policy, family services, and supports for young children.

State of Empowerment

Carolyn Barnes

Book cover for "State of Empowerment: Low-Income Families and the New Welfare State" by Carolyn Barnes. A muted blue header in the upper third, in the bottom two thirds a photo centered on an adult holding the hand of a young child with a backpack

In a remarkable turn of events—especially given the long history of punitive social policies that leave recipients feeling policed, distrusted, and alienated—government-funded after-school programs quietly become powerful forces for political and civic engagement.

- Carolyn Barnes

Investment in After-School Programs

In 2015, U.S. governments spent $25 million to support programs aiming to enrich youth development and boost academic performance through recreational activities, homework help, and extra instructions

Policy Matters

Public policy, diffused through its features and administrative organizations, conveys messages about government and social attitudes that can influence citizens' interest and capacity for participation

Benefitting the Parents

After-school programs have substantial guidelines on how to engage parents that have the capacity to positively shape parents' experience with these programs, as well as their communities and civic action.

Thucydides's Trap?

Steve Chan

Book cover of "Thucydides's Trap?: Historical Interpretation, Logic of Inquiry, and the Future of Sino-American Relations" by Steve Chan. In the left cover is an illustration of a carved bust of Thucydides that fades to a yellow background.

It is important to recognize that great-power wars can happen in the absence of any power transition and when one or more belligerents were not motivated by a revisionist agenda.

- Steve Chan

What is "Thucydides's Trap"?

Based on the writings of an ancient Greek historian, this theory states that a dominant nation will inevitably be provoked to war when another country strengthens its power; it's a scenario of "either/or", not "both/and."

What's the Motive?

Power-transition theory claims that the danger of war is only present when a rising power is motivated to revise the status quo, suggesting that it's not the dominant power that throws the gauntlet.

The United States vs. China

Chan argues that current Sino-American relations cannot be reduced to these theories, and that war between the two nations can be avoided by observing lessons learned from past accommodation of rising states.

Steve Chan

Steve Chan is College Professor of Distinction at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he teaches political science. His research interests cover international relations, political economy, foreign policy, decision-making, and East Asia. His publications include fifteen books and over one hundred and fifty articles and chapters.

Joshua J. Dyck, one of the authors of Initiatives without Engagement, discusses reasons to be optimistic about young voter engagement in this podcast episode from UC Berkeley.


People, Culture, Identity, History

The American Voter Revisited by Michael S. Lewis-Beck, William G. Jacoby, Helmut Norpoth, and Herbert F. Weisberg

Black America in the Shadow of the Sixties: Notes on the Civil Rights Movement, Neoliberalism, and Politics by Clarence Lang

Concordance: Black Lawmaking in the U.S. Congress from Carter to Obama by Katherine Tate (New Edition)

Decency and Difference: Humanity and the Global Challenge of Identity Politics by Steven C. Roach

#identity: Hashtagging Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Nation by Abigail De Kosnik and Keith P. Feldman, Editors

Imagining Politics: Interpretations in Political Science and Political Television by Stephen Benedict Dyson

Muslims in a Post 9/11 America: A Survey of Attitudes and Beliefs and Their Implications for U.S. National Security Policy by Rachel M. Gillum

Performance, Transparency, and the Cultures of Surveillance by James M. Harding

The Politics of American Jews by Herbert F. Weisberg

The Politics of Millennials: Political Beliefs and Policy Preferences of America's Most Diverse Generation by Stella M. Rouse and Ashley D. Ross

The Remarkable Rise of Transgender Rights by Jami K. Taylor, Daniel C. Lewis, and Donald P. Haider-Markel

Strike for the Common Good: Fighting for the Future of Public Education by Rebecca Kolins Givan and Amy Schrager Lang, Editors (Releasing October 19, 2020)

Vitality Politics: Health, Debility, and the Limits of Black Emancipation by Stephen Knadler

Warped Narratives: Distortion in the Framing of Gun Policy by Melissa K. Merry

Zombie History: Lies About Our Past that Refuse to Die by Peter Charles Hoffer

The Politics of Millennials

Stella M. Rouse and Ashley D. Ross

The Politics of Millennials

While this generation sees current politics, politicians, and institutions as out of touch with their values and norms, they do believe government can be a vehicle for good in the world.

- Stella M. Rouse and Ashley D. Ross

Who Are Millennials?

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, meaning that in 2020, the oldest Millennials are 39 and the youngest are 24.

Turning Out to Vote

Millennials are the largest voting cohort in 2020, but like all young people they do not vote in large numbers

Disbelief in Politics

Millennials are politically active but do not believe in traditional politics—“the system is rigged.” For example, they have the highest belief in climate change but do not support policy-centered climate change initiatives


Abigail De Kosnik and Keith Feldman, editors

Book Cover #identity: Hashtagging Race, Gender, Sexuality and Nation. Word cloud of Twitter hashtags on cover.

Twitter lives on as a significant site of US public debate, especially around questions of how diverse bodies, languages, cultures, worldviews, orientations, and experiences are being recognized or denied by this nation.

- Abigail De Kosnik and Keith P. Feldman

Fighting Invisibility

Platforms like Twitter allow users to mask their identity, so performance becomes a deliberate choice asserting the existence of and vocality of that minority

Making Spaces through Hashtags

Phenomenons such as Black Twitter and the global impact of hashtags such as #MeToo have fostered communities and amplified voices for groups of various races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and social movements.

Not Always Positive

Twitter and other networks are not only used by progressive activists, but also by extremist groups. There are dangers to the creation of these "mutually-reinforcing hyper-partisan sites" for all groups, and what is discussed on Twitter can manifest in the real world—for good or bad.

Watch the University of Michigan Press author talk with Melissa K. Merry, author of Warped Narratives, that illuminates how both gun control activists and Second Amendment advocates focus on atypical scenarios in their attempts to shape law and culture.

Black America in the Shadow of the Sixties

Clarence Lang

Book cover for "Black America in the Shadow of the Sixties: Notes on the Civil Rights Movement, Neoliberalism, and Politics" by Clarence Lang. The design is composed of six differently sized boxes, alternating between white and shades of muted green, and in the bottom right box is a photo of former president Barack Obama seated alone inside a bus as he looks out the window, away from the camera.

The long shadow of the Sixties can unwittingly shroud present-day political imagination, deadening our ability to properly conceptualize, and therefore contest, the dominant forms of racial oppression and economic injustice that define the early 21st century.

- Clarence Lang

A Decade Unlike Any Other

The mythology of "the Sixties" encompasses many global events and changing dynamics, and how we remember it influences the approaches to potential social change today.

Impact on Black Politics

The working class that advanced much of the change of the '60s has been overshadowed by the "post-civil rights" black middle class.

The Neoliberal Backlash

In the 1970s and beyond, neoliberalism and its hallmarks of economic laissez-faire fueled the nation's swing to the political right and the updated racism, economic stringency, and vindictiveness of the U.S. social policy.

“When a reality television personality becomes the President of the United States, it’s time to pay attention to what television can tell us about politics. Stephen Benedict Dyson has the unusual ability to bridge political science and popular culture and find the “useful fictions” in both.”
—John Sides, George Washington University

Muslims in a Post-9/11 America

Rachel M. Gillum

Book cover for "Muslims in a Post-9/11 America: A Survey of Attitudes and Beliefs and Their Implications for U.S. National Security Policy" by Rachel M. Gillum. A brushed bar of white stars on blue and red appears across the top of a white background.

The tremendous amount of resources put toward tracking these Muslim American communities may have actually been counterproductive in making the country safer and eroded confidence in American institutions.

- Rachel M. Gillum

Freedom or Security

The changes in national policy following 9/11 changed the way of life for all Americans, restricting some civil liberties in exchange for security

Compliant, Yet Alienated

Studies show that Muslim Americans largely support law enforcement initiatives to protect the U.S. However, some counter violent extremism efforts threaten that relationship by violating the rights of nonviolent, noncriminal Muslim citizens.

Learning the Facts

Understanding the diversity, loyalty, and concerns of the Muslim American population can better serve those seeking to strengthen the U.S. national security

University of Michigan Press Ebook Collection

Interested in reading more Political Science titles? There are many more titles included in the University of Michigan Press Ebook Collection (UMP EBC), a comprehensive collection of the University of Michigan Press’s scholarly ebooks for sale to libraries.

Learn More »

Explore more stories: