Friday, 17 June 2011

The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress

It's rather expensive - but incredible value. This year the Oxford University Press has brought out "The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress". It is a hardback book, full of useful essays giving both an up to date summary of research in particular areas, plus some areas where research is needed.

Part I is an introduction by the two editors of the 900 page volume, Eric Schickler and Francis E Lee. Part II contains five essays on "Studying the Congress", looking at

Behavioral Approaches to the Study of Congress - Bruce Oppenheimer
Formal Approaches to the Study of Congress - Craig Volden & Alan E Wiseman
Measuring Legislative Preferences - Nolan McCarty
Interviewing and Direct Observational Studies of Congress - Ross K Baker
Historical Approaches to the Study of Congress - Ira Katznelson

If only the Handbook had been available when I was starting my Literature Review for my Ph.D! The essays are succinct, very informative, and idea-provoking.

Part III deals with Elections and related matters. Part IV deals with Representation and Responsiveness. Parts V to VI were of particular interest to me. Six essays, each averaging 20 pages, deal with Congressional Institutions and Procedures in Part V. Randall Strahan writes on Party leadership (I found this article to be expensive - I've subsequently ordered a couple of the books he summarises); C Lawrence Evans  describes developments in the study of Congressional Committees. Other articles deal with The Supermajority Senate (Gregory J Wawro); Managing Plenary Time (Gary W Cox and Mathew McCubbins); Congressional Reforms (E Scott Adler) and the Congressional Budget Process (John B Gilmour).

Part VI deals with Politics and Policymaking and Part VII Congressional Development. Part II is entitled "Congress and the Constitutional System" and the volume concludes with two essays by Giants of political science, Morris Fiorina and David Mayhew.

There is both a Name index and a Subject index. All the essays have extensive bibliographies. There isn't much room left in the 'library' within my office at home - and not as much money as I'd like in my bank balance - but this is a book that is well worth the space and the price.

You can buy the book using the link below -