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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Over the past thirty years, scholars in the field of American Political Development (APD) have made major advances in understanding the structure and development of the US administrative state. This chapter considers the exceptionalism of the American state and reviews dominant theories advanced by scholars of APD to explain change in American bureaucracy. It also examines how the unique development of this state influences American social policy and contributes to racial and economic inequality. Evidence is drawn from some of the watershed moments of administrative state development, such as Jacksonian spoils system, the creation of a modern civil service during the Progressive Era, and the remarkable expansion of American state capacity in the post-war period. It argues that such research reveals how the liberal American state exercises power and why it developed as such a unique and fragmented set of institutions.

Keywords: bureaucracy, American state, institutional development, state building

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