Of swords and shields: Federalism and territorial democratization in the United States

Edward L. Gibson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Alfred Stepan has long called for theory building about the relationship between federalism and democracy. As one of the founding fathers of the now-burgeoning field of comparative federalism, Stepan has also generated important theories of his own about this relationship. His insights into how federalism can constrain the weight of democratic majorities at the center in national decision making provided new ways of comparing federal systems. They also revealed that federalism divides countries not only into multiple and overlapping governments but also into multiple and overlapping electorates. How they are structured in relation to one another tells us much about power and representation in federal democracies. In this and more recent work, Stepan has revealed the tight institutional interconnections that exist between federalism and democracy, as well as the significance for democratic regimes of how such institutional arrangements are "crafted" by political actors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProblems Confronting Contemporary Democracies
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honor of Alfred Stepan
PublisherUniversity of Notre Dame Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780268086886
ISBN (Print)9780268023720
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Of swords and shields: Federalism and territorial democratization in the United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this