Synopses & Reviews
In this landmark work, the culmination of 30 years of systematic, comprehensive comparison of 19 rich democracies, Wilensky answers two basic questions: (1) What is distinctly modern about modern societies--in what ways are they becoming alike? (2) How do variations in types of political economy shape system performance? He specifies similarities and differences in the structure and interplay of government, political parties, the mass media, industry, labor, professions, agriculture, churches, and voluntary associations. He then demonstrates how differences in bargaining arrangements among these groups lead to contrasting policy profiles and patterns of taxing and spending, which in turn explain a large number of outcomes: economic performance, political legitimacy, equality, job security, safety and risk, real health, the reduction of poverty and environmental threats, and the effectiveness and fairness of regulatory regimes.
Drawing on quantitative data and case studies covering the last 50 years and more than 400 interviews he conducted with top decision-makers and advisors, Wilensky provides a richly detailed account of the common social, economic, and labor problems modern governments confront and their contrasting styles of conflict resolution. The result is new light on the likely paths of development of rich democracies as they become richer. Assessing alternative theories, Wilensky offers a powerful critique of such images of modern society as "post-industrial" or "high-tech," "the information age" or the alleged dominance of "globalization."
Because he systematically compares all of the rich democracies with at least three million population, Wilensky can specify what is truly exceptional about the United States, what it shares with Britain and Britain abroad (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) and what it shares with all or almost all of the West European democracies, Israel, and Japan. He gives careful attention to which successful social and labor policies are transferable across nations and which are not.
Rich Democracies will interest both scholars and practitioners. It combines the perspectives of political economy (the interplay of markets and politics) and political sociology (the social bases of politics). It will be especially useful in courses on comparative political economy, comparative politics, European politics, public policy, political sociology, the welfare state, American government, advanced industrial societies, and industrial relations.
In this landmark work, the culmination of thirty years of systematic, comprehensive comparison of nineteen rich democracies, Harold L. Wilensky answers two basic questions about their similarities and differences: (1) What is distinctly modern about modern societies -- in what ways are they becoming alike? (2) How do variations in types of political economy shape system performance? Rich Democracies is a definitive account of what taxing, spending, and public policies mean for the well-being of people.
Drawing on data covering the past fifty years and more than four hundred interviews he conducted with top decision-makers, Wilensky provides a richly detailed account of the common problems modern governments confront and their contrasting styles of conflict resolution. He concludes with a fresh look at theories of "American exceptionalism." The result is new light on the likely paths of development of rich democracies as they become richer.
will be an instant classic. Chock full of new findings, it provides the definitive account of what taxing, spending, and public policies mean for the wellbeing of people. It is a model of broad comparative research, combining quantitative analysis, case studies, and historical context. Written in an accessible style, it will also serve as a valuable textbook in courses accenting contemporary society, politics, and public policy, both for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. The conclusion that consensual decision-making serves a nationand#8217;s citizens better than confrontation has enormous practical relevance for designing democratic institutions."and#151;Arend Lijphart, former President of the American Political Science Association
"A truly amazing accomplishment; a comprehensive treatment of structure and change in modern societies. Always addressing central questions in the social sciences, always empirically careful and methodologically sensitive, relentlessly comparative, Wilensky provides a powerful explanation of similarities and differences in the institutions, policies, and performance of rich democracies. In lucid, often colorful language, he knocks down widely-accepted ideological accounts of contemporary civilization, left, right, and center."and#151;Neil Smelser, Director, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences
"A monumental work, brilliant in its breadth and depth. A major contribution to debates about the functions of government, markets, and voluntary associations."and#151;Lowell Turner, Professor of Labor and Industrial Relations, Cornell University
About the Author
Harold L. Wilensky is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of California at Berkeley. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the author or co-author of twelve previous books, including Industrial Society and Social Welfare (1958, 1965); Organizational Intelligence: Knowledge and Policy in Government and Industry (1967); The Welfare State and Equality (California, 1975); Democratic Corporatism and Policy Linkages (1987); and Intellectuals in Labor Unions (1956). Before joining the University of California in 1963 he taught at the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. in sociology.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Appendices
Preface and Acknowledgments
PART I: PATHS OF DEVELOPMENT OF RICH DEMOCRACIES
CHAPTER 1 Convergence Theory
CHAPTER 2 Types of Political Economy
CHAPTER 3 Mass Society, Participation, and the Mass Media
CHAPTER 4 Theories of the Postindustrial Society
PART II: THE WELFARE STATE AND SOCIAL POLICY
CHAPTER 5 The Welfare State: Convergence and Divergence
CHAPTER 6 Sector Spending and Program Emphasis
CHAPTER 7 Types of Political Economy, Party Ideology, and Family Policy: Contrasting Government Responses to a Common Problem
CHAPTER 8 The American Welfare Mess in Comparative Perspective
CHAPTER 9 Bureaucratic Efficiency and Bloat
PART III: SYSTEM PERFORMANCE
CHAPTER 10 Tax-Welfare Backlash: How to Tax, Spend, and Yet Keep Cool
CHAPTER 11 Are Political Parties Declining? An Analysis of National Variation in Dealignment
CHAPTER 12 Types of Political Economy, Spending, Taxing, and Economic Performance
CHAPTER 13 The Great American Job Machine in Comparative Perspective
CHAPTER 14 Risk and Safety: American Mayhem in Comparative Perspective
CHAPTER 15 Types of Political Economy, Regulatory Regimes, and the Environment
CHAPTER 16 Health Performance: Affluence, Political Economy, and Public Policy as Sources of Real Health
CHAPTER 17 Globalization: Does It Subvert Labor Standards, the Welfare State, and Job Security?
CHAPTER 18 American Exceptionalism and Policy Implications