Gwendoline M. Alphonso's new book Polarized Families, Polarized Parties: Contesting Values and Economics in American Politics (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) demonstrates how regional ideas about family in the 20th century shaped, not only Republican and Democratic policy and ideological positions concerning race and gender, but also their ideals concerning the economy and the state. Drawing on extensive data from congressional committee hearings, political party platforms, legislation sponsorship, and demographic data from the three periods in the United States, Polarized Families, Polarized Parties provides a detailed analysis of how the ideal family became critical to party politics. By revealing the deep historical interconnections between family and the two parties' ideologies and policy preferences, Alphonso shows that American party development is more than a story of the state and its role in the economy but also, at its core, a debate over the political values of family and the social fabric it embodies.
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