Chapter Three: Is America Becoming More Exceptional?: How Public Policy Corporatized Social Citizenship

Restructuring the Welfare State: Political Institutions and Policy Change, 2001

28 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2014

See all articles by Frank Dobbin

Frank Dobbin

Harvard University - Department of Sociology

Date Written: 2001

Abstract

In 1950, T. H. Marshall suggested that "social citizenship" rights were the last frontier in formal citizenship protections. First came civil rights and basic freedoms in the eighteenth century, second came political rights with the extension of suffrage during the nineteenth century, and third came social rights with the development of national social insurance during the twentieth century. These three phases could be observed across developed nations.Yet in America, key social citizenship protections have been provided by employers rather than by the state, and hence the right to social protections has become a right linked to employment rather than a right linked to citizenship. As new social citizenship rights emerged in other developed countries, first to pension and health insurance and later to childcare provision and parental leaves, America saw the development of parallel rights within the corporation.The process has magnified American exceptionalism. I argue that federal policy stimulated the growth of this employment-related system of coverage, via tax incentives that encouraged corporate benefits expansion and complex regulations that encouraged firms to establish internal bureaucracies devoted to complying with the law-bureaucracies that became vocal advocates for the further expansion of private hinge benefits. The paradox of American exceptionalism, then, is that governmental activism has been the driving force behind the expansion of private social coverage.

Suggested Citation

Dobbin, Frank, Chapter Three: Is America Becoming More Exceptional?: How Public Policy Corporatized Social Citizenship (2001). Restructuring the Welfare State: Political Institutions and Policy Change, 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2412539

Frank Dobbin (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Sociology ( email )

33 Kirkland Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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