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The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy

"Keep your government hands off my Medicare!” Such comments spotlight a central question, why are many Americans unaware of government social benefits and so hostile to them in principle, even though they receive them?

Suzanne Mettler explores this issue in her new book, The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy. Mettler will argue the difficulty of conveying the accomplishments of government policies to citizens is not merely a failure of communication; rather it is endemic to the formidable presence of the “submerged state.”

Suzanne Mettler Image Suzanne Mettler

Suzanne Mettler, the Clinton Rossiter Professor of American Institutions, conducts research and teaches on American politics and public policy.

Her most recent book is The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy (University of Chicago Press 2011). Her earlier books include Dividing Citizens: Gender And Federalism In New Deal Public Policy (Cornell University Press), which was awarded the Kammerer Award of the American Political Science Association for the best book on U.S. national policy, and Soldiers to Citizens: The G.I. Bill and the Making of the Greatest Generation (Oxford University Press), which won the Kammerer Award as well as the Greenstone Prize of the Politics and History section of the American Political Science Association. She is co-editor, with Joe Soss and Jacob Hacker, of Remaking America: Democracy and Public Policy in an Age of Inequality (Russell Sage Foundation), and co-editor with Lawrence R. Jacobs of a special issue of the Journal of Health Policy, Politics, and Law focused on “Public Opinion, Health Policy and American Politics.” She has published articles in several journals, including American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science, Perspectives on Politics, and Studies in American Political Development, and numerous book chapters in edited volumes.

She is now working on three projects: one that examines how a wide array of changes in the American welfare state since the 1970s have shaped Americans’ attitudes about government and participation in politics; a second about the politics of higher education policy and what the implications of stagnating access to college may be for American democracy; and a third about how the new health care reform law enacted in 2010 influences Americans’ attitudes about the law and their political involvement.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012
12:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.


Humphrey Forum
Humphrey School of Public Affairs
301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis

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This presentation is free and open to the public. Registration is not required.

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