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The Unsustainable American State
     

The Unsustainable American State

by Lawrence Jacobs (Editor), Desmond King (Editor)
 

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The complexity of the American economy and polity has grown at an explosive rate in our era of globalization. Yet as the 2008 financial crisis revealed, the evolution of the American state has not proceeded apace. The crisis exposed the system's manifold political and economic dysfunctionalities.

Featuring a cast of leading scholars working at the intersection

Overview

The complexity of the American economy and polity has grown at an explosive rate in our era of globalization. Yet as the 2008 financial crisis revealed, the evolution of the American state has not proceeded apace. The crisis exposed the system's manifold political and economic dysfunctionalities.

Featuring a cast of leading scholars working at the intersection of political science and American history, The Unsustainable American State is a historically informed account of the American state's development from the nineteenth century to the present. It focuses in particular on the state-produced inequalities and administrative incoherence that became so apparent in the post-1970s era. Collectively, the book offers an unsettling account of the growth of racial and economic inequality, the ossification of the state, the gradual erosion of democracy, and the problems deriving from imperial overreach. Utilizing the framework of sustainability, a concept that is currently informing some of the best work on governance and development, the contributors show how the USA's current trajectory does not imply an impending collapse, but rather a gradual erosion of capacity and legitimacy. That is a more appropriate theoretical framework, they contend, because for all of its manifest flaws, the American state is durable. That durability, however, does not preclude a long relative decline.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A searing critique of the American state's failure to contain growing economic inequality and to respond effectively to the recent financial meltdown and economic collapse as well as an impressive effort to tap scholarship on American political development for insights into prospects for that state's sustainability and legitimacy."—Thomas E. Mann W. Averell Harriman Chair and Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

"The scope, intelligence, and bracing qualities of the essays that compose this uncommonly thoughtful volume remedy neglect, highlight fundamental themes, and situate today's pressing circumstances in historical context. By offering empirically rich and analytically illuminating interpretations that provoke as they inform, the authors productively advance conversations about the past, present, and future of the national state."—Ira Katznelson, author of When Affirmative

"This book represents the very best work being done in the American Political Development tradition. The essays here give us a broad overview of recent changes in American governing structures, and they probe the significance of those changes with a keen sense of the urgency, even precariousness, of the current period for the future of American government."—Frances Fox Piven, author of Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195392142
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/28/2009
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
360
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence Jacobs is the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies and director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.

Desmond King is the Andrew Mellon Professor of American Government and Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the British Academy.

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