It Didn't Happen Here?: Working Class Mobilization and the Impact of Institutional Change in the United States


The Digital Humanities Lab, Herter Hall 19G

The Digital Humanities Initiative at UMass invites you to a presentation and discussion by Dr. Amel Amhed, Faculty in the UMass Department of Political Science.

Dr. Amhed's work seeks to shed light on an enduring question of American political development: Why no workers' party in the United States? Scholars have attributed this to a variety of structural conditions associated with the nature of nation-state formation. However historical evidence reveals that at least one of these structural conditions - the single member plurality (SMP) electoral system - was not an originary feature of the American political system as many have assumed, but rather was deliberately adopted in 1842 to undermine nascent working class mobilization. In this project Ahmed explores the consequences of the move to SMP during this critical period of labor party formation.

Ahmed combines statistical, GIS, and qualitative analysis to assess the impact of this move on workers' parties. Evidence of class-based gerrymandering presents a significant challenge to the received wisdom on the determinants of working class mobilization, suggesting that the fate of workers' parties was, at least in part, an institutionally structured outcome.

Light refreshments will be served. If you would like to attend this event, please RSVP to by Thursday, April 18.

Please forward this announcement to any faculty, staff, or grad students who might be interested in attending this event - We hope to see you there!