POLITICS AND SOCIETY IN THE SOUTH by Earl & Mearle Black Black

POLITICS AND SOCIETY IN THE SOUTH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Over three decades ago, V.O. Key wrote a classic study of the South, Southern Politics in State and Nation. But that was written in a day when the Republicans couldn't buy a vote below the Mason-Dixon Line. In recognition of the radical changes in the South, the Blacks posit their work as the modern replacement to Key's. And in large measure, they succeed. Of course, the most crucial factor in the changed politics of the South has been the enfranchisement of the region's blacks. Speaking of the past, the authors write that ""in no small measure the Solid South rested on the electoral dominance of the native white population."" But along with the new black voters came a herd of migrating nonsouthem whites, along with a replacement white generation that predisposed the region away from traditional one-party status. Apart from voting patterns and racial configurations, the Blacks also document a radical change in the southern social order since WW II, to the extent that, by 1980, a majority of employed southerners were considered middle class. ""The reigning political philosophy of the new southern middle class is the entrepreneurial version of the individualistic political culture, a blend of conservative and progressive themes."" The changes visible in the South affect not only the national political figures who come from the area but the state leaders as well. ""The pivotal change in the nature of southern state leadership has been the decline of segregationist marginalists and the rise of nonsegregationist adaptives."" To anyone who pooh-poohs the South as a powerful force, consider that, with the rise of Georgia Senator Sam Nunn to national prominence, it is possible that two out of three of our late-20th-century Presidents could well be southerners. Top-notch scholarship.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
ISBN: 0674689593
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press