Putting Federalism in Its Place

The Territorial Politics of Social Policy Revisited

Subjects: Political Science, Governance, Public Policy
Paperback : 9780472055548, 252 pages, 4 figures, 1 table, 6 x 9, January 2023
Hardcover : 9780472075546, 252 pages, 4 figures, 1 table, 6 x 9, January 2023
Open Access : 9780472902927, 252 pages, 4 figures, 1 table, 6 x 9, January 2023
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This book proposes a method for understanding the relationship between federalism and public policy in a comparative and institutional perspective

Table of contents

 List of Illustrations
Chapter 1: Why should we care about federalism?
Chapter 2: Federalism, Territorial Politics, and Identities
Chapter 3: Interests, nationalism, regionalism, and jurisdictionalism
Chapter 4: How policies and legacies matter
Chapter 5: Federalism, institutions, and parties
Chapter Six: How to analyze federalism


What does federalism do to welfare states? This question arises in scholarly debates about policy design as well as in discussions about the right political institutions for a country. It has frustrated many, with federalism seeming to matter in all sorts of combinations with all sorts of issues, from nationalism to racism to intergovernmental competition. The diffuse federalism literature has not come to compelling answers for very basic questions.

Scott L. Greer, Daniel Béland, André Lecours, and Kenneth A. Dubin argue for a new approach—one methodologically focused on configurations of variables within cases rather than a fruitless attempt to isolate “the” effect of federalism; and one that is substantively engaged with identifying key elements in configurations as well as with when and how their interactions matter. Born out of their work on a multi-year, eleven-country project (published as Federalism and Social Policy: Patterns of Redistribution in Eleven Countries, University of Michigan Press, 2019), this book comprises a methodological and substantive agenda. Methodologically, the authors shift to studies that embraced and understood the complexity within which federal political institutions operate. Substantively, they make an argument for the importance of plurinationalism, changing economic interests, and institutional legacies.

Scott L. Greer is Professor of Health Management and Policy, Global Public Health, and Political Science at the University of Michigan.

Daniel Béland is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Political Science at McGill University and Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.

André Lecours is Professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa.

Kenneth A. Dubin is Adjunct Professor of Strategy and Human Resources at IE Business School in Madrid.

“. . . handily dispenses with approaches treating federalism as an independent variable with relative constant causal effects.”

—Gerard W. Boychuk, University of Waterloo

- Gerard W. Boychuk

“This book presents an innovative explanation on how federalism impacts on the development of welfare states. By combining institutionalist and society-centered approaches, the authors challenge widely accepted assumptions. Anyone interested in comparative federalism and social policy will find their study inspiring.”

—Arthur Benz, Technische Universität Darmstadt

- Arthur Benz

“This is a challenging book. It lays down a methodological challenge to studies that see federalism—or any other political institution—as a variable with an average effect across cases. The authors advocate an alternative approach, configurational analysis, which they illuminate in examining four federations. Substantively, the book presents a fascinating analysis of the difference between federations with stateless nations and those without. A must-read for anyone interested in institutional analysis.”
—Keith G. Banting, Queens University

- Keith G. Banting

"It represents a challenging and highly important contribution to federalism scholarship, though equally to a wider variety of social science research strands. Indeed, one may hope that the authors and other scholars take this approach in analyzing additional federal cases as well as their nexus with other policies."
--Publius: The Journal of Federalism

- Jared Sonnicksen