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Faculty: Rick Valelly

Department Overview

Richard Valelly, Professor of Political ScienceRick Valelly is Claude C. Smith '14 Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College, where he has taught since Fall, 1993.

His current research focuses on the political development of LGBT rights in the U.S. from the Lavender Scare of the 1950s through the aftermath of DADT's repeal.

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Prize Winning Book

Recipient in 2005 of the J. David Greenstone Prize of the Politics and History Section of the American Political Science Association for the best book in politics and history published in the previous two years.

Recipient of the 2005 Ralph J. Bunche Award of the American Political Science Association, which honors excellence in books that treat ethnic and cultural pluralism in the United States.

Recipient of the 2005 V.O. Key, Jr. Award of the Southern Political Science Association, for the outstanding book on Southern politics published in 2004.


MLK Quote

“One of the difficult lessons we have learned is that you cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. Any real change in the status quo depends upon continued creative action to sharpen the conscience of the nation and establish a climate in which even the most recalcitrant elements are forced to admit that change is necessary.”
— Martin Luther King Jr. (1965)

Most Recent Book

This book covers nuts-and-bolts of American politics from a broadly developmental perspective with an emphasis on institutional innovations that help both to make American democracy work well and to maintain constitutional forms and traditions.  The book has a very useful section at the back on further reading and an appendix describing important websites and blogs for finding out more about American politics. 

The political scientist Ed Winckler, who blogs in English and Chinese, has a very useful detailed discussion and description of the book at:

Visit the publisher's page

Przewoski Quote

“...the miracle of democracy is that conflicting political forces obey the results of voting. People who have guns obey those without them. Incumbents risk their control of governmental office by holding elections. Losers wait for their chance to win office. Conflicts are regulated, processed according to rules, and thus limited. This is not consensus, yet not mayhem either. Just limited conflict; conflict without killing. Ballots are 'paper stones,' as Engels once observed. ”
— Adam Przeworski (1999)