Guest Speaker - Sean Theriault

Departmental Event

Start Date: Oct 16, 2019 - 12:00pm

Location: Room 2069 (Social Sciences Building)

Sean Theriault, PhD
University of Texas, Austin





Contempt in Congress: The Fraying of the Social Fabric in the U.S. Senate

Public approval of Congress is near an all-time low. So, too, is comity in
Congress. Pundits, politicians, and political scientists too frequently discuss these
trends under the broad rubric of party polarization. In this paper, I attempt to tease out
a dimension different from ideology that begins to develop a measure of the Senate’s
social fabric. By focusing almost exclusively on ideology, we lose a more nuanced
understanding of current congressional dynamics. At this point, this paper outlines a
field of study rather than presenting results and conclusions.

Sean Theriault (PhD, Stanford) is a full professor and scholar
of American political institutions at UT Austin. Professor
Theriault is the author of four books and dozens of articles on
Congress, polarization, and political development including his
most recent book (with Brian Jones and Michelle Whyman)
“The Great Broadening: How the Vast Expansion of the
Policymaking Agenda Transformed American Politics”
(Chicago, 2019). He has won several teaching awards and is a
member of the UT Academy of Distinguished Teachers.