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Remaking America

Democracy and Public Policy in and Age of Inequality

Joe Soss, Jacob S. Hacker, Suzanne Mettler

Publication Year: 2007

Over the past three decades, the contours of American social, economic, and political life have changed dramatically. The post-war patterns of broadly distributed economic growth have given way to stark inequalities of income and wealth, the GOP and its allies have gained power and shifted U.S. politics rightward, and the role of government in the lives of Americans has changed fundamentally. Remaking America explores how these trends are related, investigating the complex interactions of economics, politics, and public policy. Remaking America explains how the broad restructuring of government policy has both reflected and propelled major shifts in the character of inequality and democracy in the United States. The contributors explore how recent political and policy changes affect not just the social standing of Americans but also the character of democratic citizenship in the United States today. Lawrence Jacobs shows how partisan politics, public opinion, and interest groups have shaped the evolution of Medicare, but also how Medicare itself restructured health politics in America. Kimberly Morgan explains how highly visible tax policies created an opportunity for conservatives to lead a grassroots tax revolt that ultimately eroded of the revenues needed for social-welfare programs. Deborah Stone explores how new policies have redefined participation in the labor force—as opposed to fulfilling family or civic obligations—as the central criterion of citizenship. Frances Fox Piven explains how low-income women remain creative and vital political actors in an era in which welfare programs increasingly subject them to stringent behavioral requirements and monitoring. Joshua Guetzkow and Bruce Western document the rise of mass incarceration in America and illuminate its unhealthy effects on state social-policy efforts and the civic status of African-American men. For many disadvantaged Americans who used to look to government as a source of opportunity and security, the state has become increasingly paternalistic and punitive. Far from standing alone, their experience reflects a broader set of political victories and policy revolutions that have fundamentally altered American democracy and society. Empirically grounded and theoretically informed, Remaking America connects the dots to provide insight into the remarkable social and political changes of the last three decades.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

About the Authors

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pp. vii-viii


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Part I: Introduction

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pp. 1

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1. The New Politics of Inequality: A Policy-Centered Perspective

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pp. 3-23

Compared to the generation that grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, Americans coming of age today confront a world of greatly expanded possibilities. The overt forms of discrimination that plagued women and racial minorities since the nation's founding have now been mostly rendered...

Part II: Policies and Institutions in the New Politics of Inequality

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pp. 25

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2. Constricting the Welfare State: Tax Policy and the Political Movement Against Government

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pp. 27-50

The redistributive programs of the welfare state cannot exist without a politically secure and stable source of finance. All public programs have to be paid for by someone, yet people often want more public spending than they are willing to pay for through taxes. The resulting dilemma...

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3. Entrepreneurial Litigation: Advocacy Coalitions and Strategies in the Fragmented American Welfare State

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pp. 51-73

When the Republican-dominated 104th Congress restructured welfare policies in 1996, it also launched a major assault on welfare litigation. The law that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with the new Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)...

Part III: Elite Efforts to Reshape the Political Landscape

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pp. 75

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4. The Implementation and Evolution of Medicare: The Distributional Effects of "Positive" Policy Feedback

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pp. 77-98

In the early 1950s, a small group of stalwart reformers concluded that the failure to establish universal access to health insurance under Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman required a change in strategy. Passing universal health insurance in one fell swoop was unlikely to...

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5. A Public Transformed? Welfare Reform as Policy Feedback

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pp. 99-118

In the early 1950s, a small group of stalwart reformers concluded that the failure to establish universal access to health insurance under Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman required a change in strategy. Passing universal health insurance in one fell swoop was unlikely to...

Part IV: Policies and Participation: The Interplay of Structure and Agency

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pp. 119

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6. Universalism, Targeting, and Participation

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pp. 121-140

Political inequality is one of the defining characteristics of our time. Some groups—the wealthy, the educated, and the organized—participate in politics at much higher rates than others. As a result, they tend to get more of what they want from the government (Campbell...

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7. Institutions and Agents in the Politics of Welfare

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pp. 141-156

The idea that welfare-state programs are not only the consequence of politics but that, once created, they are powerful influences on the politics that subsequently shapes the programs is by now familiar. On the one side, social democratic analysts have argued persuasively not only...

Part V: The People That Policies Make: Roles, Identities, and Democrats

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pp. 157

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8. Policies of Racial Classification and Politics of Racial Inequality

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pp. 159-182

In 1890, the United States Census Office reported that the nation contained 6,337,980 Negroes, 956,989 "mulattoes," 105,135 "quadroons," and 69,936 "octoroons." l In the early twentieth century it also reported the number of whites of "mixed parentage," the number of Indians with...

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9. Welfare Policy and the Transformation of Care

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pp. 183-202

By 2001, five years after "the end of welfare as we know it," reports from around the country were triumphal. Rolls had been cut—as much as 90 percent in some states. Millions of people once on the dole were now employed. The war on welfare was succeeding beyond...

Part VI: The State's New Look: Decentralization, Inequality, and Social Control

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pp. 203

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10. The Promise of Progressive Federalism

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pp. 205-227

American progressives are generally suspicious of federalism and the authority it gives state and local governments to make social and economic policy decisions. They would prefer the country run by a capable national government that supports their political goals. Progressives believe...

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11. The Political Consequences of Mass Imprisonment

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pp. 228-242

With more than 2 million people behind bars and another 4 million under some form of correctional supervision, the scale of imprisonment in the United States is now unequaled in the world. Imprisonment has become a routine life event for the young, low-education, mostly...

Part VII: Putting the Pieces Together: Constructivist and Institutionalist Perspectives

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pp. 243

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12. Poverty, Policy, and the Social Construction of Target Groups

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pp. 245-253

Poverty, policy, and the shape of American democracy are related in many, often unexpected, ways. More than forty years after the nation declared a "war on poverty" and passed a multitude of policies aimed at its eradication, poverty persists and has become more intractable. ...

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13. Policy, Politics, and the Rise of Inequality

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pp. 254-265

The chapters in this volume make a compelling case for the benefits of a "policy-centered approach" to social analysis. Central to that case is an appreciation that policy is not just a "product" of the political process—an end result—but a central component of that process. ...


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pp. 267-277

E-ISBN-13: 9781610445108
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871543516
Print-ISBN-10: 0871543516

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2007