The authors would like to thank Mark Peffley, Frances Fox Piven, Erin O'Brien, Sarah Bruch, and Loïc Wacquant for hepful comments and advice on earlier drafts of this article.
The Color of Devolution: Race, Federalism, and the Politics of Social Control
Article first published online: 9 JUL 2008
©2008, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 52, Issue 3, pages 536–553, July 2008
How to Cite
Soss, J., Fording, R. C. and Schram, S. F. (2008), The Color of Devolution: Race, Federalism, and the Politics of Social Control. American Journal of Political Science, 52: 536–553. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00328.x
- Issue published online: 9 JUL 2008
- Article first published online: 9 JUL 2008
In this article, we seek to advance scholarship on the origins and consequences of policy devolution by analyzing state decisions to give local authorities control over welfare policy. The first part of our analysis explores the political forces that systematically influence state decisions to cede policy control to lower-level jurisdictions. In this context, we propose a general Racial Classification Model of how race influences social policy choice. Our findings support this model as well as social control perspectives on welfare provision. Building on these results, we then show how modest but consistent racial effects on policy choices concatenate to produce large disparities in the overall policy regimes that racial groups encounter in the federal system. The empirical findings illuminate the fundamental role that federalism plays in the production of contemporary racial disparities and in the recent turn toward neoliberal and paternalist policies in American poverty governance.