PS 32 510 Prof. Dr. M. Mayer SoSe 2003 Freie Universität Berlin Minute Taker: Jason Beery Overseer: Thorsten Unger May 16th Session Minutes Theda Skocpol’s second chapter, “State Formation and Social Policy in the United States,” in her book Social Policy in the United States served as the basis for today’s presentation. The discussion that followed analysed Skocpol’s argument that the first comprehensive social policy in the United States began with the paying of pensions to Civil War veterans during the second half of the Nineteenth Century and not with the New Deal programs of the 1930s, commonly regarded as the beginning of expansive social policy in the U.S. In his presentation, Andreas, the discussion leader, provided a short summary of the text and explained the evolution of the pension system that Skocpol describes, showing its development from the granting of preexisting benefits to soldiers in 1861 to the passage of the Dependent Pension Act of 1890. The reasons for the increasingly progressive legislation during this period he, as Skocpol does, attributed to several minor causes and one major cause. The minor reasons included: the need to increase benefits for service to increase participation in a war in a mass democracy; the lobbying of both veterans’ groups and and attorneys (both of whom would benefit from an extension of pensions); and the need to spend the large budget surpluses stemming from high tariffs. The main reason for the expansion of benefits, however, was the rise of patronage democracy: parties, particularly the Republican Party, sought to expand their power base by attracting veterans with increases in pension payments immediately before elections and with promises of further expansion of pension benefits. The conclusions that followed were that the Civil War pensions usually ignored by scholars were the most successful social policy ever in the U.S. and that large-scale social policy did indeed exist before the New Deal. The discussion that followed was based on two questions. First, taking Skocpol’s argument into account, was Katznelson’s thesis that civil unrest is the main reason for the implementation of social security and welfare systems wrong? Secondly, can the pattern of ‘patronage democracy’ be used as a general approach to explain the development of the U.S. welfare state? Though neither question received a definite answer, the answers provided insight into characteristics of the U.S. welfare system during the late 1800s. The rise of the American welfare state through the disbursement of pension benefits underscores a significant difference between the emergence of European welfare states and the U.S. welfare state in that time period. The European welfare state developed from democratic roots. There, fear of working class unrest prevailed during the period of mass industrialization. The industrialization led then to the increase in the number of factories, which in turn, by concentrating once disperse workers in central buildings, provided for the organization of labor. Through this organization of labor in Europe, social democratic parties formed to represent and improve the conditions of the working class. In the United States, however, the roots of the social welfare system came not by democratic means, but rather by bureaucratic ones. Although limited civil unrest did occur in the United States during the industrialization of the late 1800s as the result of the rise of a working class, the pension based welfare system did not develop from fears of working class organizing, but instead, as Skocpol argues, from the rise of patronage democracy. Within this new social welfare system in the U.S. lies a major difference between the U.S and German welfare states. Whereas in Germany at that time, where citizenship was the requirement to receive aid if one was unable to work, the welfare system in the U.S. was based upon merit. The government distributed pensions only to those (or closest relative thereof) who had served a ‘patriotic duty’ to the country by participating in the Civil War. Despite these differences, the development of a social welfare state in both European nations and the United States grew out of local networks of social support. Though the impact of localities on the creation of the social state was greater in Europe, towns and counties in the U.S. also provided bases of social support, which influenced the creation of a social state during the late Nineteenth Century.