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Book cover of Dividing Citizens: Gender and Federalism in New Deal Public Policy

Dividing Citizens: Gender and Federalism in New Deal Public Policy

by Suzanne Mettler

Publisher: Cornell University Press
Pages: 272
Paperback
ISBN: 9780801485466






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Overview of Dividing Citizens: Gender and Federalism in New Deal Public Policy

The New Deal was not the same deal for men and women-a finding strikingly demonstrated in Dividing Citizens. Rich with implications for current debates over citizenship and welfare policy, this book provides a detailed historical account of how governing institutions and public policies shape social status and civic life. In her examination of the impact of New Deal social and labor policies on the organization and character of American citizenship, Suzanne Mettler offers an incisive analysis of the formation and implementation of the pillars of the modern welfare state: the Social Security Act, including Old Age and Survivors' Insurance, Old Age Assistance, Unemployment Insurance, and Aid to Dependent Children (later known simply as "welfare"), as well as the Fair Labor Standards Act, which guaranteed the minimum wage.Mettler draws on the methods of historical-institutionalists to develop a "structured governance" approach to her analysis of the New Deal. She shows how the new welfare state institutionalized gender politically, most clearly by incorporating men, particularly white men, into nationally administered policies and consigning women to more variable state-run programs. Differential incorporation of citizens, in turn, prompted different types of participation in politics. These gender-specific consequences were the outcome of a complex interplay of institutional dynamics, political imperatives, and the unintended consequences of policy implementation actions. By tracing the subtle and complicated political dynamics that emerged with New Deal policies, Mettler sounds a cautionary note as we once again negotiate the bounds of American federalism and public policy.

Synopsis of Dividing Citizens: Gender and Federalism in New Deal Public Policy

The New Deal was not the same deal for men and women - a finding strikingly demonstrated in Dividing Citizens. The book provides a historical account of how governing institutions and public policies shape social status and civic life. In her examination of the impact of New Deal social and labor policies on the organization and character of U.S. citizenship, Suzanne Mettler offers an incisive analysis of the formation and implementation of the pillars of the modern welfare state: the Social Security Act, including Old Age and Survivors' Insurance, Old Age Assistance, Unemployment Insurance, and Aid to Dependent Children (later known simply as "welfare"), as well as the Fair Labor Standards Act, which guaranteed the minimum wage.

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Editorials

From the Publisher

"Suzanne Mettler has written a magnificent book. Each of the six detailed cases authoritatively presents fresh information based on a comprehensive command of a very large range of primary sources. Mettler gives a vivid sense of who the New Deal policymakers were and what their strategic goals and concerns were. While the book offers a structural analysis, real people are clearly depicted coping with or defending the institutional structure of federalism as they struggle over the design of national policy."-Richard M. Valelly, Swarthmore College

"Dividing Citizens will make a fine addition to the growing literature on women and the welfare state. The policy case studies are expert and lucid, giving a very deep anchor to feminist claims that the New Deal was gender biased. Mettler's powerful narrative control makes it possible for the non-specialist to follow the maze of policy-making and policy implementation."-Gwendolyn Mink, author of Welfare's End

"A highly original and sophisticated analysis that penetrates to the heart of the policymaking process, with significant implications for the serious and often hidden impact of 'states' rights' on women's rights. A landmark study, brilliantly intertwining institutional arrangements and moral concerns."-James MacGregor Burns, Williams College

"Dividing Citizens provides a fresh and provocative view of the New Deal-one that adds philosophical and historical depth to our understanding of the 'gender gap' in contemporary politics. Suzanne Mettler's close examination of the major policies enacted during the 1930s reveals how the New Deal extended the rights of individuals to the social and economic dimensions of citizenship, but fell short of upholding the rights of women to participate fully in this economic constitutional order. Skillfully combining intellectual, institutional, and policy history, Dividing Citizens encourages us to revisit the fundamental issue of how the New Deal welfare state affected the character and experience of American citizenship."-Sidney M. Milkis, Brandeis University

"In this impressively researched book, Mettler offers a fresh twist, applying the lens of gender to often-studied labor and social welfare programs."-Choice

"Students of social policy will find much that is valuable in Mettler's book."-The Journal of American History

"Mettler's book is interesting and would be well read by anyone interested in New Deal political economy."-Journal of Economic History

"Politically astute, theoretically sophisticated, and historically informed."-Eileen Boris, University of Virginia. American Studies, 2001

"In this important book, Mettler asserts that the New Deal creation of divided citizenship disadvantaged women by treating them with both equality and difference. . . By pursuing both courses, the New Deal state enshrined and intensified women's inequality..One approach of the other. . . would have rendered better results. . . Mettler's book is a persuasive, well-conceived, and thoughtful analysis of how the promises of broadened social citizenship rights. . . reinforced inequality and discrimination in the realm of the state."-Elizabeth Faue, Wayne State University. American Historical Review, April 2001

"Mettler's analysis of the political and institutional aspects of New Deal public policy adds a useful perspective to studies of gender and the welfare state. . . A fascinating, finely detailed piece of research written in an accessible style for specialists and generalists alike."-Joanne L. Goodwin, University of Nevada, Law and History Review, Summer 2001

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