CUP Undergraduate Research


Causes of Polarization in the American Political System, 1980s to the Present

Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2017

Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Arts & Sciences



Degree Name

History, BA

First Advisor

Dr. Gerd Horten


The political system in the United States is polarized between democrats and republicans. As evidence by small disagreements and negative rhetoric towards one another, this kind of polarization causes congress as well as our government, to stagnate. With seemingly no one attempting to bridge the divide across party lines, a question is brought to attention: what happened to the political moderates? Why is the American political system so polarized in the first place? Through research, this thesis will argue that the effect of the media is a cause of polarization through changing the information and its mediation; that racial politics and immigration are causes due to this effect on how Americans vote and perceive one another; and that social and cultural issues like gay marriage and abortion rights split not only American culture in two, but also the political system that is so closely tied to it.

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