'America Divided' To Be Subject of UB Symposium

Release Date: March 27, 2007

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A symposium organized by political scientist James E. Campbell will look at the ideological polarization of America's political parties.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It is clear that Congress and the major American political parties are more ideologically polarized than they were a generation ago, but are Americans themselves more deeply polarized?

This and other questions about America's political identity will be discussed in "America Divided: The Polarization of American Politics," a symposium to be held April 17 from 5:30-7 p.m. in Room 250 of Baird Hall on the University at Buffalo's North (Amherst) Campus. The symposium is open and free to the public.

"Liberals and conservatives in the American electorate seem to be more neatly sorted into the Democratic and Republican parties than they used to be," says symposium organizer James E. Campbell, professor and chair of the UB Department of Political Science. "The symposium will attempt to answer how and why we have become more divided as a nation.

"Are we engaged in a 'culture war' of secular liberals and religious conservatives? Is this a media creation? Are divisions based on greater economic disparities or on a polarizing president?"

Campbell and Matthew Levendusky, a postdoctoral research associate in political science at Yale University, will present their research on polarization and lead a discussion on the topic.

Both Campbell and Levendusky contributed to the recent book on the subject of political polarization: "Red and Blue Nation? Characteristics and Causes of America's Polarized Politics," edited by Pietro S. Nivola and David Brady and published jointly by Stanford University's Hoover Institution and the Brookings Institution, a prominent Washington think-tank.

According to Campbell, "Red and Blue Nation?" grew out of a conference jointly sponsored by the Hoover Institution and the Brookings Institution. The conference brought together leading scholars and distinguished journalists to examine the extent, causes and consequences of polarization in American politics.

The UB symposium is sponsored by the Brookings Institution Press and UB's chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society.

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