Didi Kuo


Clientelism, Capitalism, and Democracy: The Rise of Programmatic Politics in the United States and Britain. Cambridge University Press (2018)

Clientelism, Capitalism, and Democracy explains the conditions under which political parties transition from clientelistic to programmatic competition. It argues that changes in capitalist organization, including the adoption of managerial capitalism and the creation of politically-oriented business organizations, led businesses to develop preferences against clientelism and patronage. Further, it argues that the linkages parties forged with business interests ushered in new forms of interest mediation, democratic accountability, and programmatic organization.

Clientelism, Capitalism, and Democracy compares outcomes in the nineteenth-century United States and Britain. Marshaling data from party organizations and Congressional and Parliamentary archives, it first establishes measures of clientelism over time. The book shows how parties became increasingly dependent on clientelism in electoral and legislative politics in the nineteenth century. It then uses archives of business organizations to trace how innovations in the economic sector, including the shift from small family-owned firms to hierarchical corporations run by professional managers, influenced the political preferences of an emerging capitalist class. Capitalists decried the economic costs of clientelism, which precluded predictable policy-making and eroded the administrative capacity of the state. They increasingly saw corporate innovation as a model for governance, leading businesses both to demand programmatic reforms and to influence their form. Party leaders, in an effort to accommodate organized group demands, built professional organizations to aggregate and mediate competing interests. By tracing how parties used new state capacities and linkages with interest groups to develop programmatic appeals, this book shows how capitalism was critical to the transition from clientelistic modes of governance.

Articles and Working Papers

Comparing America: Reflections on Democracy Across Subfields Forthcoming, Perspectives on Politics

Reassessing American Democracy: The Enduring Challenge of Racial Exclusion (with Johanna Kalb). University of Michigan Law Review Online Vol. 117: 55-62.

Capitalism, Parties, and Democratic Accountability: Lessons from History (working paper)

The Paradox of Party Polarization, in The American Interest

Democracy and Governance in the US: In Search of Innovations, in The Governance Report 2017, ed. Hertie School of Governance. Oxford University Press

Illicit Tactics as Substitutes: Election Fraud, Ballot Reform and Contested Congressional Elections in the United States, 1860-1930, (with Jan Teorell). 2017. Comparative Political Studies 50(5): 665-696

Democracy in America (with Nolan McCarty). 2015. Global Politics 6(S1), 49–55

Polarization and Partisanship. The American Interest, Nov/Dec 2015

Reforming Lobbying and Campaign Finance. A Report of the Program on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective, 2015

Electoral System Reform in the United States. A Report of the Program on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective, Stanford University, 2014

Comparative Budget Policy: Lessons for the United States. A Report of the Program on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective, Stanford University, 2014

"Culture War? A Closer Look at the Role of Religion, Denomination, and Religiosity in US Public Opinion" (with Shauna Shames and Katherine Levine). In Faith, Politics, and Sexual Diversity, ed. David Rayside and Clyde Wilcox. University of British Columbia Press, 2011.