Turning points in Social Security: Explaining legislative change, 1935-1985.
AuthorTynes, Sheryl Renee.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis work is a sociological analysis of factors that led to the political success of old-age insurance in the United States from 1935-1985. Archival documents, the Congressional Record, House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committee Hearings, and secondary sources were used to piece together the social and political history of the program. The historical record was assessed in light of the pluralist, neo-Marxist and neo-Weberian theoretical frameworks typically utilized to study political change. Two key arguments are put forth. First, analyses that focus on the long-term process of social and political change are required to distinguish between the unique and the general. Other works that focus on isolated time periods cannot make these distinctions. It is also through longitudinal analysis that causality can be determined. Insights gained from a broader time-frame relate to specification of economic, political, and demographic shifts that shape the political agenda. Second, meso-level specification of organizational actors is necessary to assess the logic behind these actors' shifting positions. Organizational theory carries the analysis further than do previous theoretical perspectives, primarily because it specifies which political actors, either inside or outside the polity, attempt to influence their environment. It is through an organizational theory framework that we can determine effective strategies for instituting social change. Finally, using organizational theory and extrapolating from past events, some predictions for the future of Social Security are suggested.