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The Associational State

The Associational State: American Governance in the Twentieth Century

Brian Balogh
Margot Canaday
Glenda Gilmore
Michael Kazin
Stephen Pitti
Thomas J. Sugrue
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Associational State
    Book Description:

    In the wake of the New Deal, U.S. politics has been popularly imagined as an ongoing conflict between small-government conservatives and big-government liberals. In practice, narratives of left versus right or government versus the people do not begin to capture the dynamic ways Americans pursue civic goals while protecting individual freedoms. Brian Balogh proposes a new view of U.S. politics that illuminates how public and private actors collaborate to achieve collective goals. This "associational synthesis" treats the relationship between state and civil society as fluid and challenges interpretations that map the trajectory of American politics solely along ideological lines. Rather, both liberals and conservatives have extended the authority of the state but have done so most successfully when state action is mediated through nongovernmental institutions, such as universities, corporations, interest groups, and other voluntary organizations.

    The Associational Stateprovides a fresh perspective on the crucial role that the private sector, trade associations, and professional organizations have played in implementing public policies from the late nineteenth through the twenty-first century. Balogh examines key historical periods through the lens of political development, paying particular attention to the ways government, social movements, and intermediary institutions have organized support and resources to achieve public ends. Exposing the gap between the ideological rhetoric that both parties deploy today and their far less ideologically driven behavior over the past century and a half,The Associational Stateoffers one solution to the partisan gridlock that currently grips the nation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-9137-7
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction. Toward an Associational Synthesis
    (pp. 1-22)

    Americans are frustrated with government. Partisan gridlock has driven public opinion of Congress to historic lows. Budget deficits loom and the wealth gap expands. The price of homeland security requires citizens to share their homes, or at least their cell phones, with Big Brother. And a host of foreign economic competitors threaten to eclipse the American Century. Even those idealistic souls inclined to give Washington the benefit of the doubt wondered during the Obama administration if their faith had been misplaced after enduring the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—the most important government domestic-policy initiative since the...

  4. Chapter 1 The Enduring Legacy of Nineteenth-Century Governance in the United States: The Emergence of the Associational Order
    (pp. 23-40)

    That nineteenth-century Americans did not want the national government involved in their lives, that they preferred to leave things to state and local government and a free market unencumbered by government intervention and that they got their wish—a central government that did not do anything important—has informed popular interpretations of nineteenthcentury U.S. history. It has influenced scholarly accounts of twentiethcentury political development as well, and continues to frame twenty-firstcentury political debate, with partisans dividing over the battle to resurrect or bury America’slaissez-fairetradition.

    But what would our account of state building in the twentieth century look like...

  5. Chapter 2 Scientific Forestry and the Roots of the Modern American State: Gifford Pinchot’s Path to Progressive Reform
    (pp. 41-65)

    Gifford Pinchot was the Progressive Era’s Forrest Gump. When it came to the politics of conservation, he was everywhere. Pinchot was the youngest member of the National Forest Commission in 1896. He directed the Division of Forestry (later the Forest Service) from 1898 through 1910. Pinchot engineered the transfer of the national forests from the Department of Interior to the Department of Agriculture, where his Forest Service was based. He actively managed those forests, even when this entailed fierce battles with Western interests. Pinchot battled Secretary of the Interior Richard A. Ballinger over the future of conservation in the Taft...

  6. Chapter 3 “Mirrors of Desires”: Interest Groups, Elections, and the Targeted Style in Twentieth-Century America
    (pp. 66-88)

    The template used by elected officials to discern the preferences of their constituents is fundamental to democratic governance. This template shifted in the first third of the twentieth century. The way in which elected officials conceptualized voters evolved from one that employed reliable partisan cues about voters’ wishes to one that relied upon far more specialized profiles of voters and that delivered policy-prone information to elected officials. The dynamic relationship between interest groups, rapidly changing conceptions of consumers, and electoral politics, combined with the declining ability of political parties to convey voter preferences, accounts for this fundamental shift. Conceptualizing the...

  7. Chapter 4 Reorganizing the Organizational Synthesis: Federal-Professional Relations in Modern America
    (pp. 89-138)

    Twenty years after Louis Galambos published “The Emerging Organizational Synthesis in Modern American History,” the organizational strand of revisionist history has become a mainstay of scholarly interpretation.¹ One hallmark of its maturity is that today the organizational synthesis is itself a subject undergoing revision by charter members and critics alike. High priests like Galambos have underscored the wealth of scholarship spawned by the organizational approach and have discerned broad new trends and tensions in that scholarship. Galambos recently blessed three denominations that have embellished and elaborated upon the founders’ abiding faith in the forces of modernization to reshape state-society relations:...

  8. Chapter 5 Meeting the State Halfway: Governing America, 1930–1950
    (pp. 139-171)

    The essays in this volume suggest an alternative way to narrate the evolution of politics and governance in the United States. They examine the interaction between state and society, paying particular attention to those institutions located within civil society and the private sector that mediated between citizen and state. I have mapped an “associational order” that was shaped, in part, by the state and that parceled out public authority to the voluntary and even the private sectors, relying on intermediary institutions to administer policies that achieved collective ends without trampling upon the rights of individual citizens. Federal administrators, like the...

  9. Chapter 6 Making Pluralism “Great”: Beyond a Recycled History of the Great Society
    (pp. 172-199)

    Explicit in the title of this essay is a seemingly innocuous term: “pluralism.” For many leading scholars, the Great Society killed pluralism. Nelson Lichtenstein, for instance, has castigated pluralism as a Trojan horse (designed by liberal intellectuals, no less!) that co-opted social democracy only to succumb to self-absorbed rights consciousness. Hugh Heclo, on the other hand, has underscored the schizophrenic pressures that pluralism faced in the 1960s when citizens asked government to do more at the very time they trusted it less. This overwhelmed a system built upon compromise. “Combining ferocious opposites and keeping each ferocious,” not the compromise and...

  10. Conclusion. How We Got Here
    (pp. 200-222)

    The year 2013 was not good for the Obama administration. Despite his earlier accomplishments—navigating landmark health care reform through a hyper-partisan Congress and spearheading the successful assault on Osama Bin Laden—implementation proved to be a challenge for the former community organizer, law professor, and U.S. senator. The rollout of “Obamacare” was a self-acknowledged disaster. And on the homeland security front, the aggressive pursuit of the very goals that most Americans supported raised concerns about privacy from both Democrats and Republicans in the wake of revelations by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor turned whistle blower....

  11. Notes
    (pp. 223-266)
  12. Index
    (pp. 267-281)