The study of US politics in Europe has always been small-scale. In the UK, it is often tied to contemporary history. In much of continental Europe, it is distanced from political science (which largely eschews area studies) and is instead, intellectually and institutionally, an adjunct to American studies. Whereas many other fields within political science have been compelled to consider the methodological underpinnings of their work, US politics has yet to do this. In contrast, within the US, political science has, since the behaviouralist revolution, been largely structured around quantitative forms of analysis. There is therefore a significant gulf between the study of US politics in Europe and political science in both Europe and the US. Furthermore, American studies is itself under long-term threat in some European countries because, forecasters suggest, the demand for English-language teaching (to which American studies is generally tied) will decline in the long term. As a consequence of these developments, those who study US politics at university level are not being replaced as they retire and there are few new entrants into the profession. The article suggests that US politics should, as a subdiscipline, seek out openings that might bring the subject back towards political science. In particular, it argues that US politics researchers in Europe should look more closely at developments within historical institutionalism, American political development (APD) and comparative politics.
Journal of American Studies, 2013, Vol 47, Issue 4, p. 1197-1213