Google full text of our books:


Bold Relief:
Institutional Politics and the Origins of Modern American Social Policy
Edwin Amenta

Co-Winner of the 1999 Distinguished Publication Award, Political Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1998

Paperback | 2000 | $47.95 | £39.95 | ISBN: 9780691050683
320 pp. | 6 x 9 | 19 halftones, 7 charts, 19 tables
Add to Shopping Cart

Reviews | Table of Contents

Google full text of this book:

According to conventional wisdom, American social policy has always been exceptional--exceptionally stingy and backwards. But Edwin Amenta reminds us here that sixty years ago the United States led the world in spending on social provision. He combines history and political theory to account for this surprising fact--and to explain why the country's leading role was short-lived.

The orthodox view is that American social policy began in the 1930s as a two-track system of miserly "welfare" for the unemployed and generous "social security" for the elderly. However, Amenta shows that the New Deal was in fact a bold program of relief, committed to providing jobs and income support for the unemployed. Social security was, by comparison, a policy afterthought. By the late 1930s, he shows, the U.S. pledged more of its gross national product to relief programs than did any other major industrial country.

Amenta develops and uses an institutional politics theory to explain how social policy expansion was driven by northern Democrats, state-based reformers, and political outsiders. And he shows that retrenchment in the 1940s was led by politicians from areas where beneficiaries of relief were barred from voting. He also considers why some programs were nationalized, why some states had far-reaching "little New Deals," and why Britain--otherwise so similar to the United States--adopted more generous social programs. Bold Relief will transform our understanding of the roots of American social policy and of the institutional and political dynamics that will shape its future.


"In Bold Relief, Edwin Amenta brings welcome attention to the wide range of social services promulgated in the mid- and late 1930s.... Bold Relief offers a useful and insightful overview of the origin and limits to US social policy."--Political Science Quarterly

"With convincing evidence, Bold Relief limns a bold new vision of federal social policy from the New Deal through the 1940s."--Reviews in American History

"Amenta insists that [social insurance and assistance programs] were constructed around the public provision of work for those in need.... The argument is impressive, and it offers a political reminder that providing work was, for a time, thought a legitimate and desirable role for governments."--The Times Higher Education Supplement

"Bold Relief restores an important dimension to the history of American social policy.... One hopes that the book will inspire advocates of all kinds of policy to be bolder--and better informed--about creating the political and administrative preconditions necessary for new social policies."--Social Service Reviews

Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations
List of Tables and Figures
Introduction: Paradoxes of American Social Policy 3
Ch. 1 An Institutional Politics Theory of Social Policy 18
Ch. 2 An Indifferent Commitment to Modern Social Policy, 1880-1934 54
Ch. 3 America's First Welfare Reform, 1935-1936 80
Ch. 4 Consolidating the Work and Relief Policy, 1937-1939 122
Ch. 5 Some Little New Deals Are Littler than Others 162
Ch. 6 Redefining the New Deal, 1940-1950 191
Ch. 7 A Welfare State for Britain 231
Conclusion 250
Afterword 270
Notes 273
Initials of Organizations and Programs 331
Sources of Illustrations 333
Index 335

Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Edwin Amenta:


Subject Areas:

  • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

 Paperback : $47.95 ISBN: 9780691050683

Add to shopping cart
View contents of your shopping cart

  • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

 Paperback  £39.95 ISBN: 9780691050683

Add to shopping cart
View contents of your shopping cart

Prices subject to change without notice

File created: 7/11/2017

Questions and comments to:
Princeton University Press

New Book E-mails
New In Print
PUP Blog
Princeton APPS
Sample Chapters
Princeton Legacy Library
Exam/Desk Copy
Recent Awards
Princeton Shorts
Freshman Reading
PUP Europe
About Us
Contact Us
PUP Home

Bookmark and Share 
Send me emails
about new books in:
American History
Political Science And International Relations
More Choices