Panel: Constructions of the American State’s Relationship to its People

A session at Third Zuckerman Conference at the Mellon Biennial

Friday 10th April, 2015

11:15am to 1:00pm (EST)

Soon after World War II, the American State and its relationship to the people of the U.S. changed dramatically, or so two of our panelists argue. One provides a theoretical framework to show how the war directly but differentially affected state organizations such that post-war American racial politics were both significantly reshaped and unchanged from the pre-war era. Another articulates the rise in “the confessional era,” as Federal employment in the 1950s began being determined not by ability but by an employee’s testimony about their relationships, personal habits, family history and the like. These investigations culminated a decades-long reimagining of the nature of human psychology and selfhood by American psychology, resulting in a rethinking of the relationship between the state and the individual. Perhaps one result of these transformations is low voter turnout in the U.S. The vote is an accountability institution that democratic political theory and systems hold dear. One response to low turnout is state-mandated voting. But, as a third paper asks, is this ethical? Our final paper develops a core-periphery theory of policy attitudes toward “localized events” by examining the role and impact on people’s policy attitudes of residential spatial proximity to such an event. In particular, this paper shows that people living relatively close to the U.S./Mexico border support greater displays of security than those living further away from the border.

Steven White, Postdoctoral Research Associate/Brown University
For Democracy and a Caste System?: World War II and American Racial Politics

Robert Genter, Professor of History/Nassau Community College
American Psychology and the Rise of the Cold War National Security State

Jeronimo Cortina, Assistant Professor of Political Science/University of Houston
Not In My Front Yard: The Impact of Spatial Proximity on Attitudes Toward Immigration in Texas

David Szakonyi, Department of Political Science & Mellon Fellow, Columbia University

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Time 11:15am1:00pm EST

Date Fri 10th April 2015

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