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Beyond the Hidden American State Classification Struggles and the Politics of Recognition Damon Mayrl Universidad Carlos III de Madrid Sarah Quinn University.

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Presentation on theme: "Beyond the Hidden American State Classification Struggles and the Politics of Recognition Damon Mayrl Universidad Carlos III de Madrid Sarah Quinn University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Beyond the Hidden American State Classification Struggles and the Politics of Recognition Damon Mayrl Universidad Carlos III de Madrid Sarah Quinn University of Washington Many Hands of the State Conference Chicago, Illinois 16 May 2014

2 The Hidden American State

3 Emphasis on state actors and their motives Strong version: state hides its action for ideological reasons (e.g., Balogh 2009; Krippner 2007; Mettler 2011) Weak version: hiddenness emerges from attempts to avoid political obstacles (e.g., Clemens 2006; Hacker 2002) Emphasis on policy or program design

4 What Hidden Hides Hiddenness may not follow from design or intent (Mayrl & Quinn 2014)

5 What Hidden Hides Invisible programs are often quite visible

6 What Hidden Hides Even obvious government programs are often not recognized as such 43% of unemployment insurance beneficiaries, 44% of social security recipients say they have never received government benefits (Mettler 2011) Post office, teachers, firefighters so integrated into our lives that they can pass unnoticed (Balogh 2009; Sheingate 2009)

7 What Hidden Hides Position in social space affects our ability to see the state (Wacquant 2009; Weaver and Lerman 2010)

8 What Hidden Hides Visibility may be a function of controversy (Soss and Schram 2007)

9 Beyond Hidden Perceptions of the state are socially patterned State visibility not necessarily a function of policy design or policymaker intent Our approach: focus on how policy structures interact with schemas of classification

10 Classification and the State Classification an integral facet of the modern state (Adams et al. 2005; Bourdieu 1991, 1994; Loveman 2005; Migdal 2001; Mitchell 1991; Wilson 2011) States are themselves classified (Fourcade, just now) The very idea of the state organizes how we divide the world into state and society (Mayrl and Quinn 2014; Mitchell 1991)

11 Multistability Structure that permits multiple subjective perceptions

12 The M.C. Escher State

13 Classification and the M.C. Escher State Classifications render the multistable reality of governance into something perceptually stable Classifications shaped by interactions, trajectory through social space, political predispositions There is a politics to classification Interests Struggle Advantage

14 From Hidden to Misrecognized Classifications can naturalize existing social arrangements, allowing them to be misrecognized Two mechanisms of misrecognition MisattributionDesensitization

15 From Hidden to Misrecognized Classification struggles govern our ability to see the state Contests over classification help to make the state visible The absence of struggle, by contrast, encourages misrecognition Dominant actors have greater power to impose their classifications on policies

16 Two Illustrative Case Studies Local classification struggle: Healthy San Francisco restaurant surcharges ( ) National classification struggle: You Didnt Build That controversy (2012)

17 Local Classification Struggles Healthy San Francisco (2007) Structure: Expansion of existing charity-care system Funding: city funds, patient premiums, and employer mandates Employer mandate: 3 options Traditional private coverage Pay the city so employees could participate in HSF Employee health care savings accounts

18 Local Classification Struggles Restaurateurs response Unsuccessful legal challenge Healthy San Francisco surcharges on receipts and menus Shifted costs from owners to customers, but placed symbolic responsibility on the state

19 Local Classification Struggles

20 2011 Wall Street Journal exposé finds restaurants recouping money from health savings accounts managed by private companies City closes loophole, but legitimacy and meaning of surcharge come into question Surcharges increasingly interpreted as evidence of greed and irresponsibility of restaurant owners

21 Local Classification Struggles Summary SF restaurants make city regulations visible to customers through surcharge Scandals alter meaning of surcharge, ironically highlighting restaurateurs self-interest instead of city policy State visibility accomplished through private actors, but perceptions independent of intent

22 National Classification Struggles There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. --Elizabeth Warren, Sept. 2011

23 National Classification Struggles If you were successful, someone along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If youve got a businessyou didnt build that. Somebody else made that happen. --Barack Obama, July 2012

24 National Classification Struggles

25 The Presidents logic…extends to everybody in America that wants to lift themself up a little further, that goes back to school to get a degree and see if they can get a little better job, to somebody who wants to get some new skills and get a little higher income… The President would say, well you didnt do that. You couldnt have gotten to school without the roads that government built for you. You couldnt have gone to school without teachers. So you didnt, you are not responsible for that success. --Mitt Romney, July 2012

26 National Classification Struggles Irony: attempt to deny role of the state brings the role of the state to the fore of discussion Tax-exempt bonds Small Business Administration loans Matching funds from trade adjustment assistance program Government contracts

27 National Classification Struggles Summary Democrats attempt to make the many hands of the state visible, but Republicans challenge it as an illegitimate reclassification Efforts to reassert misattribution ironically spur revelations of additional hands

28 Conclusions American governance should be thought of as a multistable system that invites variable classifications Classificatory schemas facilitate the recognition (or misrecognition) of state action Struggles to classify particular aspects of governance as state or non-state are a key tool of power

29 Implications Seeing the state is a collective endeavor

30 Implications Seeing the state is a collective endeavor The hidden state may emerge in the aggregate, over time, or as an unintended consequence

31 Implications Seeing the state is a collective endeavor The hidden state may emerge in the aggregate, over time, or as an unintended consequence Classification struggles promote recognition of state action, both specifically and generally

32 Reorientations for Research Not just how the state is hidden, but also how it becomes visible From policy design to classificatory struggles From the observed to the observer

33 Thank you! Damon Mayrl Comparative Sociology Group Universidad Carlos III de Madrid Sarah Quinn Department of Sociology University of Washington, Seattle

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35 Local Classification Struggles Postscript These campaigns continue: Some Florida restaurants begin placing Obamacare surcharges on restaurant receipts in early 2014

36 National Classification Struggles Summary


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