About the talk:
Despite widespread concern about political polarization, many political scientists are reassured by the fact that partisan polarization has in fact been very common in American political history. Today's polarization, however, is different in a critical respect: it is far more nationalized than most prior episodes. Competition between the parties that is simultaneously polarized, nationalized, and long-lasting creates intense challenges that the American constitutional order is ill-equipped to handle. As a result, the nation faces growing risks of failed governance and democratic backsliding.

About the speaker:
Paul Pierson is the John Gross Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He serves as director of the Berkeley Center for the Study of American Democracy, and as co-director of the multi-university Program on American Political Economy. His research focuses on American political economy and public policy. He is the author or co-author of six books, including the best-selling Winner Take All Politics, co-authored by Jacob Hacker.

About the Robin M. Williams lecture series:
This annual lecture honors the late Robin M. Williams Jr., a past president of the American Sociological Association, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophic Society. He was a commanding figure in 20th century sociology. For much of his career, he was a named chair at Cornell and then for two decades, he was a visiting professor in UCI’s sociology department. He died in 2006 at the age of 91, an active teacher and publishing scholar to the very end of his life.

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