This comprehensive guide to the American government defines politics as a means of devising rules for the management of conflict. Its coverage of the social context of American politics introduces students to the diversity of the American people and its consequences for US politics. Policy chapters discuss how policy is made in the US, rather than merely describing the politics currently in place. Features include: "political portraits" and "changing rules" boxes; and supplementary material in the appendices. The text is intended for students of political science and American studies.