Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Politics and Government: Political Science

First Advisor

Austin L Crothers


This thesis examines Democratic and Republican party platforms over the 1980-2016 period in a content analysis to test claims of partisanship increasing on identity lines in American politics. As a key issue facing democracies in recent years, polarization has coincided with challenges for democratic governance. Cases of ‘pernicious’ polarization that extend partisan rifts into social life, and especially those that feature an ‘existential’ or ‘formative rift' dynamic as in the US case, may be prone to intractable partisan conflict and politics amenable to democratic erosion. The tensions may also create space for democracy enhancements. The findings of the content analysis offer support for increasing partisan-identity polarization in American politics in recent decades. Republican party platforms seem to increasingly reproduce a historical majoritarian appeal on religious-cultural or ethnic identity lines, in contrast to Democratic party platforms that likewise increasingly contest the meaning of ‘American’ in more identitarian albeit inclusive in a multicultural sense of community and belonging.


Imported from Mullins_ilstu_0092N_12054.pdf


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