This article provides an overview of the emerging field of American political economy (APE).
Methodologically eclectic, this field seeks to understand the interaction of markets and government in America's unequal and polarized polity. Though situated within American politics research, APE draws from comparative political economy to develop a broad approach that departs from the American politics mainstream in two main ways. First, APE focuses on the interaction of markets and governance, a peripheral concern in much American politics research. Second, it invokes a theoretical orientation attentive to what we call meta politics—the processes of institution shaping, agenda setting, and venue shopping that unfold before and alongside the more visible processes of mass politics that figure so centrally in American politics research. These substantive and theoretical differences expand the study of American politics into neglected yet vital domains, generating fresh insights into the United States’ distinctive mix of capitalism and democracy.