Professor Lapinski (Ph.D. Columbia University, 2000) is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He also works in the Elections Unit at NBC News. His primary area of research is concerned with understanding lawmaking in Congress. He is also interested in congressional and presidential campaigns and elections as well as American political development. He has taught courses on Congress, American national institutions, Theories of Lawmaking, American political development (co-taught with Stephen Skowronek), presidential and congressional elections, and quantitative methods. In the spring of 2007 he will teach an undergraduate lecture course on Congress and lawmaking as well as the graduate survey course of American politics.
Currently, Professor Lapinski is engaged in two related manuscript oriented research projects on lawmaking. Both projects aim to better understand different elements of lawmaking with an emphasis on the role Congress plays in this process.
In his own project, The Substance of Representation: Congress, American Political Development and Lawmaking, he aims to better understanding how lawmaking works in the United States. Specifically, the project focuses on how, why, and when policy substance matters for understanding lawmaking. In the book, he argues that the turn away from policy substance in Congressional studies over the past two decades has seriously impeded our understanding of the lawmaking process in the United States. The Substance of Representation brings the enterprises of Congressional studies and American political development. The project is a study of lawmaking that addresses two primary audiences: students of Congress, to whom Professor Lapinski wishes to empirically demonstrate the utility and importance of focusing on policy substance and historical context to understand lawmaking, and scholars of American political development who have not yet fully incorporated Congress and lawmaking into their work.
In collaboration with Ira Katznelson, Professor Lapinski is working on Southern Nation: On Policy, Representation and Lawmaking, 1877-1965, which is under contract with Princeton University Press and the Russell Sage Foundation. In this book, they start with the idea that over the course of much of American history, the South has been a distinctive, expressly racialized, unit within the larger political, social, and economic order of the United States. They ask to what extent was the South a nation within a nation and did southern ideas, practices, and preferences in Congress impose themselves on the United States as a whole, effectively creating a larger southern nation?