In Invoking the Invisible Hand Robert Asen scrutinizes contemporary debates over proposals to privatize Social Security. Asen argues that a rights-based rhetoric employed by Social Security's original supporters enabled advocates of privatization to align their proposals with the widely held belief that Social Security functions simply as a return on a worker's contributions and that it is not, in fact, a social insurance program.
By analyzing major debates over a preeminent American institution, Asen reveals the ways in which language is deployed to identify problems for public policy, craft policy solutions, and promote policies to the populace. He shows how debate participants seek to create favorable contexts for their preferred policies and how they connect these policies to idealized images of the nation.
Edited by Daniel C. Brouwer and Robert Asen University of Alabama Press, 2010 Library of Congress JA75.7.P83 2010 | Dewey Decimal 306.20973
This book explores the ways that scholars, journalists, politicians, and citizens conceive of “the public” or “public life,” and how those entities are defined and invented. For decades, scholars have used the metaphors of spheres, systems, webs, or networks to talk about, describe, and map various practices. This volume proposes a new metaphor—modalities—to suggest that publics are forever in flux, and much more fluid and dynamic than the static models of systems or spheres would indicate—especially in the digital age, where various publics rapidly evolve and dissipate.
Contributors to the volume—employing approaches from the fields of communication studies, English, sociology, psychology, and history—explore a broad range of texts and artifacts that give rise to publics, and discuss what they reveal about conceptualizations of social space. By focusing on process in public engagement, these scholars highlight questions of how people advance their interests and identities, and how they adapt to situational constraints.
Bringing together scholars in rhetorical, cultural, and media studies, this collection of new case studies illustrates a modalities approach to the study of publics. These case studies explore the implications of different ways of forming publics, including alternative means of expression (protests, culture jamming); the intersection of politics and consumerism (how people express their identities and interests through their consumer behavior); and online engagement (blogs as increasingly important public fora). In doing so, they raise important questions of access, community, and political efficacy.
Images of poverty shape the debate surrounding it. In 1996, then President Bill Clinton signed welfare reform legislation repealing the principal federal program providing monetary assistance to poor families, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). With the president's signature this originally non-controversial program became the only title of the 1935 Social Security Act to be repealed. The legislation culminated a retrenchment era in welfare policy beginning in the early 1980s.
To understand completely the welfare policy debates of the last half of the 20th Century, the various images of poor people that were present must be considered. Visions of Poverty explores these images and the policy debates of the retrenchment era, recounting the ways in which images of the poor appeared in these debates, relaying shifts in images that took place over time, and revealing how images functioned in policy debates to advantage some positions and disadvantage others. Looking to the future, Visions of Poverty demonstrates that any future policy agenda must first come to terms with the vivid, disabling images of the poor that continue to circulate. In debating future reforms, participants-whose ranks should include potential recipients-ought to imagine poor people anew.
This ground breaking study in policymaking and cultural imagination will be of particular interest to scholars in rhetorical studies, political science, history, and public policy.