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Book review: Bicameralism

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  1. Introduction
  2. Summary of the main arguments
  3. Internal critics
  4. External critics
  5. Conclusion

The book Bicameralism, by George Tsebelis and Jeannette Money, was published in 1997 by New York: Cambridge University Press. As indicated by the sober title, the authors study bicameralism, or a ?legislature that involves two distinct chambers in its deliberation? ? from the Latin bi (two) and camera (chamber). George Tsebelis and Jeannette Money are either Professor (or Assistant Professor) of Political Science at the University of California, Mr. Tsebelis in Los Angeles and Mrs. Money in Davis. Mr. Tsebelis is famous and often cited for his work published in 2002 entitled Veto Players: How Political Institutions Work. This study focuses on the interaction between chambers, considering that forgetting this interaction is equivalent to studying unicameralism. This is a première in the study of bicameralism, which hasn't been studied much, and the authors therefore manage to come up with new conclusions on bicameralism, or correct preceding assertions from other authors.

The book is separated in three parts: the first two chapters establish the diversity of bicameral institutions, historically and geographically. In the next three chapters, the authors elaborate models for investigating the different aspects of bicameralism. Finally, the four subsequent chapters present empirical evidence corroborating the different predictions of the models. The authors focus on the French case, presented as especially interesting for its complexity. The study also pays attention to Germany, Japan, Switzerland, the United States and the European Union. This book review will also be separated in three parts. First of all, the main arguments will be summarised, and the most important points of the book will be highlighted. In a second part, I will try to establish a critic of the methods and the claims used and supported by the authors.

[...] They also say at the beginning of the book that their work focuses on bicameralism but that it can have wider applications to other political processes, like the ?interaction between legislatures and executives in presidential systems?1. I didn't really know where to write this, but I was very attracted to Lijphart's classification of bicameralisms according to congruence and symmetry. Charles Shipan, professor at the University of Michigan, finds the empirical studies ?quite useful? and qualifies the book of ?good social science?2 in a book review. [...]


[...] This chapter of the book was again very hard to read and understand; the final outcome of conference committees depends on bicameral restrictions and the committee yolk/features. Chapter this chapter presents a case study of the French republic to test the models of chapter 4. The empirical study led by the authors is coherent with the conclusions elaborated in chapter 4. Chapter as titled, this chapter is centred on the process of intercameral bargaining, again by studying empirically the French case. [...]

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