Many CSAD activities are organized around three central thematic programs: Race and Ethnic Politics, American Political Economy, and Representation and Accountability. These programs support the research efforts of faculty and graduate students working on these topic areas and their relation to the crisis of governance in the United States. 

Identity, Inequality, and Race

Racial divisions have always shaped American politics, and racial inequalities are deeply embedded in American society and institutions. Contemporary conflicts prominently exhibit pronounced racial divisions and the use of racialized political appeals. The Program on Identity, Inequality and Race supports the efforts of political scientists to understand these political dynamics. In addition to providing support for graduate student research and sponsoring conferences, the Program will finance an external mentoring program, inviting leading researchers from across the country to come and work with individual graduate students at Berkeley.

Political Economy

The field of American Political Economy explores the strong and important linkages between the American economy and American politics. Political interventions deeply influence the shape of the economy. In turn, the distribution of economic resources and patterns of economic activity profoundly influence the shape of politics. APE scholarship investigates these connections to deepen our understanding of processes of political and economic development that have far-reaching effects on people’s lives. Much current research in APE focuses on organized interests, which
play a critical yet often poorly understood role in shaping the structure of
government action.

Some of CSAD’s work on the American Political Economy is carried out in cooperation with the Consortium on American Political Economy (CAPE). With support from the Hewlett Foundation, CAPE is building a network of scholars studying the American Political Economy. It conducts an annual summer school for advanced graduate students and junior faculty, as well as an annual research conference. CAPE’s inaugural Post-Doctoral Fellow, Sam Trachtman (Berkeley Ph.D ‘21) is in residence at CSAD during the 2021-2022 academic year.

Representation and Accountability

Many political scientists at Berkeley focus on issues of representation and accountability within the American political system. Understanding voters – how they make sense of the political landscape, reach judgments about issues, fashion their political identities, and determine whether and if so how to engage in politics – is a central concern. Other research concentrates on American political institutions (Congress, the Presidency, the Courts, State and Local Government), with a focus on the conditions influencing the effectiveness of government in confronting pressing problems and the extent to which these institutions are responsive to the concerns and priorities of the nation’s citizens. Crucial resources for these efforts include the Citrin Center for Public Opinion Research and The People Lab.