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Published December 1979 | metadata_only
Journal Article

The Third Electoral System, 1853-1892: Parties, Voters, and Political Cultures [Book Review]


Extending his 1970 Cross of Culture back in time to the 1870s and 1880s and in space to the Middle Atlantic and New England states, supplementing data from homogeneous areas with more sophisticated techniques of linear regression and correlation analysis, treating the connections between religious beliefs and social actions subtly and in great depth, Paul Kleppner has produced perhaps the most impressive work of what he insists should not be called "the ethnocultural school." Apparently reacting to charges that what he prefers to term "the voting behavior studies" have ignored class factors, reflected their authors' supposed political conservatism, and represented a consensus version of American history, Kleppner has included headnotes from Marx, Engels, and Mao and a chapter on the Greenback and Populist parties, and painted party contests not as sham patronage battles involving unimportant issues, but as mirrors of "an irreconcilable conflict over the very nature of society." If his graceless prose style will repel many readers, his combination of "letristic" with quantitative evidence and his focus on ideology will attract traditional historians alienated by the exclusive stress on statistics and behavior that has sometimes characterized works of quantitative history. Indeed, the book strikes me as altogether too traditional, as insufficiently social-scientific.

Additional Information

© 1979 Oxford University Press. Book review of: The Third Electoral System, 1853-1892: Parties, Voters, and Political Cultures by Paul Kleppner. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979. ISBN: 9780807813287

Additional details

August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023