The Politics-Administration Dichotomy : Toward a Constitutional Perspective, Second Edition book cover
2nd Edition

The Politics-Administration Dichotomy
Toward a Constitutional Perspective, Second Edition

Edited By

Patrick Overeem

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ISBN 9781439895894
Published April 3, 2012 by Routledge
242 Pages

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Book Description

The politics-administration dichotomy is much mentioned and often criticized in the Public Administration literature. The Politics-Administration Dichotomy: Toward a Constitutional Perspective, Second Edition offers a book-length treatment of this classical notion. While public administration academics typically reject it as an outdated and even dangerous idea, it re-emerges implicitly in their analyses. This book tells the story of how this has happened and suggests a way to get out of the quandary. It analyzes the dichotomy position in terms of content, purpose, and relevance.

What’s in the Second Edition

  • Extensive study of the politics-administration dichotomy as a classic idea in Public Administration
  • A much-overlooked constitutionalist line of argument in defense of this widely discredited notion
  • Exploration and further development of the intellectual legacy of Dwight Waldo
  • Coverage of the dichotomy’s conceptual origins in 18th and 19th century Continental-European thought
  • An assessment of main criticisms against and alternatives for the dichotomy presented in the literature
  • Contributions to the newly emerging Constitutional School in the study of public administration
  • An argument against the institutional separation of Political Science and Public Administration in academia

Completely revised and updated, the book examines the idea that politics and public administration should be separated in our theories and practices of government. A combination of history of ideas and theoretical analysis, it reconstructs the dichotomy’s conceptual origins and classical understandings and gives an assessment of the main criticisms raised against it and the chief alternatives suggested for it. Arguing that one-sided interpretations have led to the dichotomy’s widespread but wrongful dismissal, the study shows how it can be recovered as a meaningful idea when understood as a constitutional principle. This study helps readers make sense of highly confused debates and challenge the issues with an original and provocative stance.

Table of Contents

A Quandary. Conceptual Origins. Classical Formulations. Heterodox Criticisms. Viable Substitutes? A Constitutional Principle. The Meaningful Dichotomy. Epilogue: the Study of Administration and Politics.

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Series Editor(s)


Patrick Overeem is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Public Administration of Leiden University, the Netherlands.