This wide-ranging examination of the “newest” South is a leading candidate to replace the classic work by V. O. Key, now two generations old. Politics and Society in the South is a systematic interpretation of the most important national and state tendencies in southern politics since 1920. The authors begin by describing the salient features of the old southern politics, against which they then depict the emergence of the new South: the changing composition of the population, the growth of industry and cities, economic diversification, and the rise of an urban middle class. A major component of the greatest southern transformation since the Civil War is the altered status of blacks from a disfranchised underclass to a franchised citizenry, a change that the authors discuss in all its ramifications. The decline of the Democratic Party is charted and related to the rise of the black vote and the transitional attitudes of white southerners. Finally, regional trends in presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial politics are set forth, and the overall political directions that are still reshaping southern politics and creating a two-party system for the first time are defined.
The authors contend that, notable improvements in race relations notwithstanding, the central tendencies in southern politics are primarily established by the values, beliefs, and objectives of the expanding white urban middle class. This is the crucible for a more competitive two-party politics that is emerging in the South.
The most significant and comprehensive study of the politics of the South since V. O. Key [’s Southern Politics in State and Nation, 1949]… A major contribution to the understanding of the South, the most volatile region in the nation.
A revealing and timely book… If the outcome of the election of 1988 depends heavily on the ability of the Democrats to carry the southern states, this book will be of more help in understanding the course of events than any other on the subject.
A fine and insightful synthesis of a wealth of information. It draws a balanced and convincing portrait of the region’s politics, with historical depth, and the presentation is clear, well organized, and thoroughly documented.
Within the next few years, Politics and Society in the South will be cited by every author who writes about southern politics… Readers interested in the rise of the middle class, the in-migration of northerners, the enfranchisement of blacks, and the consequences of electoral competitiveness will be fascinated by this marvelous book.
- 384 pages
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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