HIST 590: Welfare States  




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CLASS TIME AND LOCATION: Mondays 3:30-5:20; Music 212
OFFICE HOURS: Tuesdays 11:00-1:00; Smith 20


This readings and discussion course focuses on the emergence of the broadly defined American welfare state in comparative perspective.  Drawing from the literatures of history, political science, and sociology, the course will consider the convergent and divergent tracks of state-building in industrialized nations since the Industrial Revolution.  Topics include: constructions of race, class, and gender in the formation of welfare states; federalism and regionalism; privatization; labor-management relations; the role of civil society, religious institutions, and private charities.  Successful participation in the course will give students a firm grounding in the theory and historiography of social policy and critical analysis and understanding of historical antecedents to  present-day debates around health care, Social Security, welfare, and urban economic development.  Students will also have an enhanced understanding of how to teach this material to undergraduate students.


All available for purchase at the University Bookstore and on 24-hour reserve at Odegaard:

Gosta Esping-Andersen, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (1990)
Seth Koven and Sonya Michel, eds., Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States (1994)
Theda Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States (1991)
Daniel Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (1998)
Peter Baldwin, The Politics of Social Solidarity: Class Bases of the European Welfare State (1992)
Peter Swenson, Capitalists against Markets: The Making of Labor Markets and Welfare States in the United States and Sweden (2002)
Jennifer Klein, For All These Rights: Business, Labor, and the Shaping of America’s Public-Private Welfare State (2006)
Bruce Schulman, From Cotton Belt to Sunbelt:  Economic Development, Federal Policy, and the Transformation of the South, 1938-1980 (1991)
Michael Brown, Race, Money, and the American Welfare State (1999)
Michael Katz, The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State (2001)

Links to required articles for this course are embedded below. Copyright-restricted items will either link to the UW library databases (login required) or will ask for a password that will be provided to registered students by the instructor on the first day of class.


1/4         Introductory session

Discuss syllabus, assignments, research interests, and pedagogy.  Sign up for book reviews.

1/11      Welfare-state regimes

READ:    Esping-Andersen, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism

Meg Jacobs and Julian Zelizer, The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History, pp. 1-19

Suzanne Mettler and Andrew Milstein, “American Political Development from Citizens’ Perspective:  Tracking the Presence of the Federal Government in Individual Lives Over Time,” Studies in American Political Development 21 (Spring 2007), 110-130.

Stanley Feldman and John Zaller, “The Political Culture of Ambivalence: Ideological Responses
to the Welfare State,” American Journal of Political Science 36:1 (1992), 268-307.

1/18      MLK Day – no class

1/25      Gender and motherhood

READ:    Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers

Paul Burstein, “Policy Domains: Organization, Culture, and Policy Outcomes,” Annual Review of Sociology 17 (1991)

Koven and Michel, Mothers of a New World – at least five chapters of your choosing

Additional reading:
Ann Allen, Feminism and Motherhood in Germany, 1800-1914 (1991)
Rachel G. Fuchs, Poor and Pregnant in Paris: Strategies for Survival in the Nineteenth Century (1992)
Susan Pedersen, Family, Dependence, and the Origins of the Welfare State: Britain and France, 1914-1945 (1993)
Stephen Skowronek, Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877-1920 (1982)
Margaret Weir, Ann Shola Orloff, and Theda Skocpol, eds., The Politics of Social Policy in the United States (1988)

2/1         Global crossings

READ:    Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings

Additional reading:
Sven Beckert, The Monied Metropolis, New York City and the Consolidation of the American Bourgeoisie (2001)
Nicholas Bullock and James Read, The Movement for Housing Reform in Germany and France, 1850-1900 (1985)
David Moss, Socializing Security: Progressive-Era Economists and the Origins of American Social Policy (1996)
David Rothman, Conscience and Convenience: The Asylum and its Alternatives in Progressive America (1980)
Nancy Steiber, Housing Design and Society in Amsterdam: Reconfiguring Urban Order and Identity, 1900-1920 (1998)
Gail Radford, Modern Housing for America: Policy Struggles in the New Deal Era (1996) Sanford

2/8         Class and labor

READ:    Baldwin, The Politics of Social Solidarity

Additional reading:
Alice O’Connor, Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Poor in Twentieth-Century U.S. History (2001)
Linda Gordon, Pitied but not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare (1994)
Ira Katznelson, City Trenches: Urban Politics and the Patterning of Class in the United States (1981)
Lynn Hollen Lees, Solidarities of Strangers: the English Poor Laws and the People, 1700-1948 (1998)
Margaret Weir, Politics and Jobs: The Boundaries of Employment Policy in the United States (1992)

2/15      President’s Day – no class

2/22      Workers and employers

READ:    Swenson, Capitalists Against Markets

Klein, For All These Rights

Hugh Heclo, “Issue Networks and the Executive Establishment,” in Anthony King, ed., The New American Political System [1st Edition] (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1978).

Additional reading:
Jacob Hacker, The Divided Welfare State:  The Battle over Public and Private Benefits in the United States (2002)
Stuart Brandes, American Welfare Capitalism, 1880–1940 (1976)
Hugh Heclo, Modern Social Politics in Britain and Sweden (1974)
Jacoby, Modern Manors: Welfare Capitalism since the New Deal (1997)
Paul Pierson, Dismantling the Welfare State?: Reagan, Thatcher, and the Politics of Retrenchment (1993)
Julian Zelizer, Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress, and the State (1998)

3/1         Race and region

READ:    Schulman, From Cotton Belt to Sunbelt

Brown, Race, Money, and the American Welfare State

Additional reading:
Ron Bayor, Race and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century Atlanta (1996)
Jill Quadagno, The Color of Welfare: How Racism Undermined the War on Poverty (1994)
Daryl Michael Scott, Contempt and Pity: Social Policy and the Image of the Damaged Black Psyche, 1880-1996 (1997)
Kathleen Paul, Whitewashing Britain: Race and Citizenship in the Postwar Era (1997)
Robert Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (2003)

3/8         Public and private


READ:    Katz, The Price of Citizenship

Paul Pierson, “The New Politics of the Welfare State,” World Politics 48, no. 2 (1996): 143-179.

At least two articles of your choosing from ILWCH 71 (Spring 2007), special issue on the class politics of privatization

Additional reading:
Edward Berkowitz, Mr. Social Security – The Life of Wilbur J. Cohen (1995)
Jason DeParle, American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare (2004)
Colin Gordon, Dead on Arrival: The Politics of Health Care in Twentieth Century America (2003)
Christopher Howard, The Hidden Welfare State:  Tax Expenditures and Social Policy in the United States (1999)
Paul Pierson and Theda Skocpol. The Transformation of American Politics: Activist Government and the Rise of Conservatism (2007)



The assignments in this course are intended to support your professional education and are designed so that they may be repurposed at a later date in your training or your career. Naturally, participation, completion of readings, and collegial and productive participation in discussion are weighed heavily. The other assignments are:

1.  DISCUSSION QUESTIONS.  To start the discussion in advance of our meeting as a group, you should post discussion questions raised by the week’s reading on our class message board, accessed via the course web site.  Questions can be posted throughout the week, up to 1PM on the day of class.  You are welcome to post as early and as often as you like, although contributions will be assessed on quality rather than quantity. 

2.  BOOK REVIEW.  One 4-page book review of one of the texts listed as additional reading on this syllabus, to be posted on the course website.  These reviews are designed to expose the group to a wider historiography as well as provide you with the opportunity to do additional reading in an area of particular interest.  The reviews should be similar in length and content to those found in a refereed scholarly journal like the American Historical Review.  You will sign up for a book review the first week of class.  Book reviews should be submitted no later than seven days after this book appears on the syllabus. 

3. CREATE A COURSE.  In order to begin to think about how you might teach this literature to future students, you will write a hypothetical course syllabus for a 400-level undergraduate seminar. The syllabus should be as substantively detailed and structurally precise as possible, built as if it were to be taught at the UW next year. The syllabus should be accompanied by an up to 500-word (one page, single-spaced) narrative describing your choices of readings and assignments.  This can be submitted at any time during the quarter, and no later than the last class meeting on 3/8.

4. OP-ED.  Welfare, health care, and social insurance programs are among the most hotly debated issues in present-day politics. As a professional scholar or policy practitioner, your insights can be valuable to these public debates.  You will be asked to write an 800-1000 word op-ed article suitable for publication in a regional or national US paper that places one element of this debate in historical perspective, using ideas and findings of the scholarly literature to make your case.  This can be submitted at any time during the quarter, and no later than the last class meeting on 3/8.

5. REVIEW ESSAY and linked BIBLIOGRAPHY.  The final assignment is a 15-18 page (double-spaced) review essay of the welfare state literature, focusing on one particular theme or subject area and considering both US and non-US sources.  Themes could include but are not restricted to:  gender; race and ethnicity; role of labor unions; systems of taxation; federalism; non-governmental institutions; theories of state formation; capitalism and modernity.  You are encouraged to choose a topic that is relevant to your graduate training and to your future work; students from disciplines other than history can engage the scholarship in their field as well as relevant historiography.  As a linked component of this assignment, you should draw up a 1-2 page BIBLIOGRAPHY on your chosen thematic focus, and refer to these works in your review.  Books on this list can include those assigned in the course.  Although somewhat shorter than a review article found in a refereed journal such as Reviews in American History, the essay should be similar in spirit and tone of analysis. You may presume the reader’s familiarity with the substance of the works under discussion. Focus on how each of the works speaks to your chosen theme; contrast/compare sources and methods; discuss effectiveness of argument; assess contribution to the literature.  Bibliographies can be submitted at any time during the quarter, and no later than the class meeting on 3/8.  Final papers are due by noon on the Friday of exam week.

In the interest of fostering scholarly conversation and collective contributions to learning, this course will have a WIKI to which all of you are encouraged to actively contribute.  I hope you will consider posting copies of your BOOK REVIEWS and BIBLIOGRAPHIES on the wiki, as well as share links and book recommendations that may be of interest to your colleagues.
Grading breakdown is as follows: participation/readings 30%; discussion questions 10%; book review 10%; op-ed assignment 10%; syllabus-writing assignment 15%; bibliography 5%; final review essay 20%.

***Please note that most due dates are flexible so that you can accommodate other teaching and research demands.  However, I strongly encourage you to manage your time wisely and not wait until the end of the quarter to submit all this work.  Also be advised that I do not allow incompletes outside of truly extraordinary circumstances.***