Building the Compensatory State
An Intellectual History and Theory of American Administrative Reform
Contemporary public administration research has marginalized the importance of “taking history seriously.” With few exceptions, little recent scholarship in the field has looked longitudinally (rather than cross-sectionally), contextually, and theoretically over extended time periods at “big questions” in public administration. One such “big question” involves the evolution of American administrative reform and its link since the nation’s founding to American state building. This book addresses this gap by analyzing administrative reform in unprecedented empirical and theoretical ways. In taking a multidisciplinary approach, it incorporates recent developments in cognate research fields in the humanities and social sciences that have been mostly ignored in public administration. It thus challenges existing notions of the nature, scope, and power of the American state and, with these, important aspects of today’s conventional wisdom in public administration.
Author Robert F. Durant explores the administrative state in a new light as part of a “compensatory state”—driven, shaped, and amplified since the nation’s founding by a corporate–social science nexus of interests. Arguing that this nexus of interests has contributed to citizen estrangement in the United States, he offers a broad empirical and theoretical understanding of the political economy of administrative reform, its role in state building, and its often paradoxical results. Offering a reconsideration of conventional wisdom in public administration, this book is required reading for all students, scholars, or practitioners of public administration, public policy, and politics.
Table of Contents
Biography Chapter 1: Fuzzy Pictures in Our Heads? Chapter 2: The Founding Era, the Corporate–Social Science Nexus, and American Administrative Reform, Circa 1730–1824 Chapter 3: Inflexion Politics, the Corporate–Social Science Nexus, and American Administrative Reform, Circa 1824–1880 Chapter 4: Industrial Agonistes, the Corporate–Social Science Nexus, and American Administrative Reform, Circa 1880–1920 Chapter 5: Post-War Boom and Bust, the Corporate–Social Science Nexus, and American Administrative Reform, Circa 1920–1940 Chapter 6: World War II, The Cold War Nexus, and American Administrative Reform, Circa 1940–1980 Chapter 7:Neoliberalism, the Corporate–Social Science Nexus, and American Administrative Reform, Circa 1980–2016 Chapter 8: Seeing with New Eyes? Bibliography Index
Robert F. Durant is Professor Emeritus, American University. He is the recipient
of several lifetime achievement awards for his research, teaching, and service to