American Political Culture
An Encyclopedia
by Michael Shally-Jensen, General Editor; Mark J. Rozell and Ted G. Jelen, Advisory Editors
April 2015, 1311pp, 8 1/2x11
3 volumes, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-61069-377-6
$341, £253, 285€, A488
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-378-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Is America truly a “city on a hill” or a self-centered, imperialistic nation?

This all-encompassing encyclopedia provides a broad perspective on U.S. politics, culture, and society, but also goes beyond the facts to consider the myths, ideals, and values that help shape and define the nation.

Demonstrating that political culture is equally rooted in public events, internal debates, and historical experiences, this unique, three-volume encyclopedia examines an exceptionally broad range of factors shaping modern American politics, including popular belief, political action, and the institutions of power and authority. Readers will see how political culture is shaped by the attitudes, opinions, and behaviors of Americans, and how it affects those things in return. The set also addresses the issue of American “exceptionalism” and examines the nation’s place in the world, both historically and in the 21st century.

Essays cover pressing matters like congressional gridlock, energy policy, abortion politics, campaign finance, Supreme Court rulings, immigration, crime and punishment, and globalization. Social and cultural issues such as religion, war, inequality, and privacy rights are discussed as well. Perhaps most intriguingly, the encyclopedia surveys the fierce ongoing debate between different political camps over the nation’s historical development, its present identity, and its future course. By exploring both fact and mythology, the work will enable students to form a broad yet nuanced understanding of the full range of forces and issues affecting—and affected by—the political process.


  • Offers approximately 225 entries covering U.S. politics, culture, society, and beliefs
  • Includes an introductory overview of the forces that have shaped and continue to shape American political culture and a concluding essay that gathers key thematic threads and looks toward the future
  • Covers the myriad ways in which American political culture influences other aspects of American society
  • Examines how cultural symbols and beliefs are manipulated to advance political interests and establish government authority
  • Connects new issues such as social media and sexual politics with the political culture
Michael Shally-Jensen, PhD, is an independent writer and editor. His published works include ABC-CLIO's Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Social Issues and Mental Health Care Issues in America: An Encyclopedia. He served as editor-in-chief of Encyclopedia Americana and executive editor of Encyclopedia of American Studies. Shally-Jensen holds a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Princeton University.

Mark J. Rozell is professor of public policy and acting dean of the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University in Arlington, VA, and Fairfax, VA. He is the author of 9 books and editor of 20 books on various topics in U.S. government and politics.

Ted G. Jelen is professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has published extensively on religion and politics, morality politics, and public opinion. He is the former editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion and was a founding coeditor of Politics and Religion.


"The material is suitable for high school and undergraduate college students and generally informed lay readers."—ProtoView, August 12, 2015

"Appealing to a diverse readership and providing useful overviews and background information, this set belongs in academic libraries with collections focusing on American politics and is worthy of consideration by public libraries as well. Summing Up: Recommended. All academic and general audiences; journalists and politicians."—Choice, January 4, 2016

"The Encyclopedia is a useful . . . compilation of articles on U.S. political culture."—Reference Reviews, February 3, 2016
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