A Conceptual History
Before they became widespread in legislative scholarship, the terms “liberalism,” “conservatism,” and “ideology” were used by writers outside of political science. This chapter focuses on how ideology emerged as the primary source of party conflict in the U.S. Congress. To determine how ideology evolved as an analytical concept, it draws on journalistic coverage of Congress and on a comprehensive review of the literature going back to the earliest work on parties in political science. It shows that the concept's current meaning is relatively recent and first came into currency in U.S. political journalism to describe intraparty conflicts, such as between Southern and Northern Democrats or between progressive and conservative Republicans. The concept was subsequently picked up by political scientists and has since been increasingly used to analyze congressional politics. This resulted in a contemporary focus on ideology that obscures the collective political interests that trigger conflict and partisanship between Democrats and Republicans.
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