Catalogue


Bold relief : institutional politics and the origins of modern American social policy /
Edwin Amenta.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1998.
description
xiii, 343 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0691017123 (cl : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1998.
isbn
0691017123 (cl : alk. paper)
catalogue key
1867218
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [273]-330) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Edwin Amenta is Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1998-11:
Amenta's carefully researched and persuasively argued book moves beyond the analyses of his frequent coauthor and fellow institutional theorist Theda Skocpol (Protecting Soldiers and Mothers, CH Jul'93) in three important aspects. His rich, fascinating historical analysis of the 1935-50 era assesses not only the efforts to create specific policies but also their embedding, distortion, and/or abandonment. Second, he augments examination of the "Big 5" New Deal social welfare policy proposals with consideration of work-related legislation. Finally, building on his clear discussion and evaluation of others' theories and research, he persuasively argues that underdemocratized political systems, in combination with patronage-focused party systems, are the central factors shaping the peculiar composition of postwar US social policy. His life-cycle approach to social policy-making/embedding and his multilevel comparative analysis lead him to minimize and subsume the traditional institutional theory emphasis on state actors and federalist structures, and to gain several important insights. Amenta skillfully details the general and contemporary implications of his findings about the institutional and contextual conditions that promote and/or impede social reform, and/or cause it to flourish, be rolled back, or abolished. This enjoyable and well-written book is a very important contribution to the understanding of social policy-making in the US. All levels. P. McGuire; University of Toledo
Reviews
Review Quotes
Co-Winner of the 1999 Distinguished Publication Award, Political Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association One of Choice 's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1998
"In Bold Relief , Edwin Amenta brings welcome attention to the wide range of social services promulgated in the mid- and late 1930s.... Bold Relief offers a useful and insightful overview of the origin and limits to US social policy."-- Political Science Quarterly
"With convincing evidence, Bold Relief limns a bold new vision of federal social policy from the New Deal through the 1940s."-- Reviews in American History
"Amenta insists that [social insurance and assistance programs] were constructed around the public provision of work for those in need.... The argument is impressive, and it offers a political reminder that providing work was, for a time, thought a legitimate and desirable role for governments."-- The Times Higher Education Supplement
" Bold Relief restores an important dimension to the history of American social policy.... One hopes that the book will inspire advocates of all kinds of policy to be bolder--and better informed--about creating the political and administrative preconditions necessary for new social policies."-- Social Service Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, November 1998
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
According to conventional wisdom, American social policy has always been exceptional--exceptionally stingy and backwards. But Edwin Amenta reminds us here that sixty years ago the United States led the world in spending on social provision. He combines history and political theory to account for this surprising fact--and to explain why the country's leading role was short-lived.The orthodox view is that American social policy began in the 1930s as a two-track system of miserly "welfare" for the unemployed and generous "social security" for the elderly. However, Amenta shows that the New Deal was in fact a bold program of relief, committed to providing jobs and income support for the unemployed. Social security was, by comparison, a policy afterthought. By the late 1930s, he shows, the U.S. pledged more of its gross national product to relief programs than did any other major industrial country.Amenta develops and uses an institutional politics theory to explain how social policy expansion was driven by northern Democrats, state-based reformers, and political outsiders. And he shows that retrenchment in the 1940s was led by politicians from areas where beneficiaries of relief were barred from voting. He also considers why some programs were nationalized, why some states had far-reaching "little New Deals," and why Britain--otherwise so similar to the United States--adopted more generous social programs. "Bold Relief will transform our understanding of the roots of American social policy and of the institutional and political dynamics that will shape its future.
Unpaid Annotation
According to conventional wisdom, American social policy has always been exceptional--exceptionally stingy and backwards. But Edwin Amenta reminds us here that sixty years ago the United States led the world in spending on social provision. He combines history and political theory to account for this surprising fact--and to explain why the country's leading role was short-lived.The orthodox view is that American social policy began in the 1930s as a two-track system of miserly "welfare" for the unemployed and generous "social security" for the elderly. However, Amenta shows that the New Deal was in fact a bold program of relief, committed to providing jobs and income support for the unemployed. Social security was, by comparison, a policy afterthought. By the late 1930s, he shows, the U.S. pledged more of its gross national product to relief programs than did any other major industrial country.Amenta develops and uses an institutional politics theory to explain how social policy expansion was driven by northern Democrats, state-based reformers, and political outsiders. And he shows that retrenchment in the 1940s was led by politicians from areas where beneficiaries of relief were barred from voting. He also considers why some programs were nationalized, why some states had far-reaching "little New Deals," and why Britain--otherwise so similar to the United States--adopted more generous social programs. Bold Relief will transform our understanding of the roots of American social policy and of the institutional and political dynamics that will shape its future.
Main Description
According to conventional wisdom, American social policy has always been exceptional--exceptionally stingy and backwards. But Edwin Amenta reminds us here that sixty years ago the United States led the world in spending on social provision. He combines history and political theory to account for this surprising fact--and to explain why the country's leading role was short-lived. The orthodox view is that American social policy began in the 1930s as a two-track system of miserly "welfare" for the unemployed and generous "social security" for the elderly. However, Amenta shows that the New Deal was in fact a bold program of relief, committed to providing jobs and income support for the unemployed. Social security was, by comparison, a policy afterthought. By the late 1930s, he shows, the U.S. pledged more of its gross national product to relief programs than did any other major industrial country. Amenta develops and uses an institutional politics theory to explain how social policy expansion was driven by northern Democrats, state-based reformers, and political outsiders. And he shows that retrenchment in the 1940s was led by politicians from areas where beneficiaries of relief were barred from voting. He also considers why some programs were nationalized, why some states had far-reaching "little New Deals," and why Britain--otherwise so similar to the United States--adopted more generous social programs. Bold Relief will transform our understanding of the roots of American social policy and of the institutional and political dynamics that will shape its future.
Main Description
According to conventional wisdom, American social policy has always been exceptional--exceptionally stingy and backwards. But Edwin Amenta reminds us here that sixty years ago the United States led the world in spending on social provision. He combines history and political theory to account for this surprising fact--and to explain why the country's leading role was short-lived. The orthodox view is that American social policy began in the 1930s as a two-track system of miserly "welfare" for the unemployed and generous "social security" for the elderly. However, Amenta shows that the New Deal was in fact a bold program of relief, committed to providing jobs and income support for the unemployed. Social security was, by comparison, a policy afterthought. By the late 1930s, he shows, the U.S. pledged more of its gross national product to relief programs than did any other major industrial country. Amenta develops and uses an institutional politics theory to explain how social policy expansion was driven by northern Democrats, state-based reformers, and political outsiders. And he shows that retrenchment in the 1940s was led by politicians from areas where beneficiaries of relief were barred from voting. He also considers why some programs were nationalized, why some states had far-reaching "little New Deals," and why Britain--otherwise so similar to the United States--adopted more generous social programs.Bold Reliefwill transform our understanding of the roots of American social policy and of the institutional and political dynamics that will shape its future.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
List of Tables and Figures
Preface
Introduction: Paradoxes of American Social Policyp. 3
An Institutional Politics Theory of Social Policyp. 18
An Indifferent Commitment to Modern Social Policy, 1880-1934p. 54
America's First Welfare Reform, 1935-1936p. 80
Consolidating the Work and Relief Policy, 1937-1939p. 122
Some Little New Deals Are Littler than Othersp. 162
Redefining the New Deal, 1940-1950p. 191
A Welfare State for Britainp. 231
Conclusionp. 250
Afterwordp. 270
Notesp. 273
Initials of Organizations and Programsp. 331
Sources of Illustrationsp. 333
Indexp. 335
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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