Regulating a New Society: Public Policy and Social Change in America, 1900-1933

Overview

A leading scholar of twentieth-century American history looks again at the beginning of the century, this time giving us a remarkable portrait of the emergence of modern society and its distinctive transformations and social problems. As in Regulating a New Economy, his earlier book on the changing American economy, Morton Keller integrates political, legal, and governmental history, now providing the first comprehensive study of the ideas and interests that shaped early ...

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Overview

A leading scholar of twentieth-century American history looks again at the beginning of the century, this time giving us a remarkable portrait of the emergence of modern society and its distinctive transformations and social problems. As in Regulating a New Economy, his earlier book on the changing American economy, Morton Keller integrates political, legal, and governmental history, now providing the first comprehensive study of the ideas and interests that shaped early twentieth-century American social policy.

Keller looks at the major social institutions: the family, voluntary associations, religion, and education. He examines important social issues: the rights of the individual, the regulation of public mores (gambling, drugs, prostitution, alcohol abuse), the definition and punishment of crime, and social welfare policy (poverty, public health, conditions of labor). His final area of concern is one that assumed new importance after 1900: social policy directed at major groups, such as immigrants, blacks, Native Americans, and women.

The interpretive theme is fresh and controversial. Keller sees early twentieth-century American government not as an artifact of class, race, and gender conflict but as the playing out of tension between the Progressive thrust to restore social cohesion through the principle of order and organization and two other, mutually antipodal, social interests: the weight of the American past and the growing pluralism of modern America. The interplay among these elements--Progressivism, persistence, pluralism--shaped early twentieth-century social policy. The result was no clear victory for any one of these public attitudes, but rather the emergence and delineation of most of the social issues that have dominated American public life for the rest of the century.

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Editorial Reviews

Reviews in American History

Keller is brilliantly informed about important aspects of the regulatory phenomena that swept across American public life in the first part of the twentieth century.
— K. Austin Kerr

Reviews in American History - K. Austin Kerr
Keller is brilliantly informed about important aspects of the regulatory phenomena that swept across American public life in the first part of the twentieth century.
Stephan Thernstrom
A masterful work, a fresh, arresting synthesis of a vast subject. Keller's nicely textured and nuanced account gives the reader a fine sense of the pastness of the past--how very different a society it was--and at the same time an acute feeling that we are still struggling with the very issues that the Progressives and their successors grappled with. It takes deep understanding and considerable art to make a work of history 'relevant' in this sense--to make it resonate so powerfully without essential distortions of the past--and I admire Keller for having done so.
Booknews
As in Regulating a New Economy, his earlier book on the changing American economy, Keller history, Brandeis U. integrates political, legal, and governmental history, now providing a comprehensive study of the ideas and interests that shaped early 20th-century American social policy. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674753662
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1998
  • Pages: 428
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Morton Keller received his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Harvard University, and is author of numerous books and articles, including In Defense of Yesterday: James M. Beck and the Politics of Conservatism and The Art and Politics of Thomas Nast. He has also edited books on the New Deal and the age of Theodore Roosevelt. Mr. Keller is currently Samuel J. and Augusta Spector Professor of History at Brandeis University.
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Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction


Institutions

The Family and the State
  • The Matrix of Marriage
  • The Dilemmas of Divorce
  • Parent and Child


Church and State, School and Society
  • Church and State
  • School and Society


Issues

Private Rights and Civil Liberties
  • The Interests of Personality
  • Civil Liberties and Social Change
  • The Passions of Politics and War


Private Vices, Public Mores
  • Frailties of the Flesh
  • The Crusade against Drink
  • Jerusalem Lost


Crime and Punishment
  • The Face of Crime
  • Criminal Justice


Social Welfare
  • Comparative Perspectives
  • Poverty and Pensions
  • The Public's Health
  • The Condition of Labor


Groups

Immigrants and Aliens
  • Restriction
  • Aliens, Citizenship, and Race


Blacks and Whites
  • Progressivism and Race
  • Racism and Normalcy


Indians and Women
  • Assimilation
  • Suffrage

  • Abbreviations
  • Notes
  • Index
  • Modern Times: Images

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