Cloth ISBN: 9780804725798
Digital ISBN: 9780804763950
This work is a theoretically informed political history of the development of the U.S. Social Security system over more than five decades. When initiated in 1935, Social Security was a noteworthy experiment in social policy, and its endurance, inviolability, and taken-for-granted nature are evidence of its success. In this volume, the author analyzes key turning points in its history in order to provide an understanding of the various forces that led to this success. This book addresses several key questions: What were the important legislative turning points? What individuals or organizations were active in the social and political debates surrounding these turning points? Why were some of these organizational actors more successful than others in influencing policy outcomes, and what were the opportunities or constraints these organizations faced? A second major concern of the book is to explore the often contradictory interpretations of the relationship between the development of Social Security and the role of the state. The author's interpretation knits together insights from major sociological theories to fashion a dynamic explanation of the development of Social Security, one that acknowledges the economic, political, and cultural context and takes into account the importance of specific organizational and social movement actors. This theoretical framework permits an examination of the ways in which various groups influence political change.