Recommend books about the history of the social contract?
September 17, 2011 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Can you suggest good books on the evolving social contract?

I'm a journalist who finds himself faced with an assignment on the evolving social contract between governments and citizens.

It's easy to point to the rise of the Tea Party, but I'd like to get a better grounding on the matter, especially in a global context, before I start calling professors. Can you point me towards any seminal books that would help get me up to speed?
posted by bicyclefish to Law & Government (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Evolution of the social contract
posted by quodlibet at 12:51 PM on September 17, 2011

by Skyrms (don't know why the first one didn't link).
posted by quodlibet at 12:52 PM on September 17, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks! I should also have mentioned that my particular interest is the history of the welfare state. Any perspective on its rise and turbulent life would be fantastic.
posted by bicyclefish at 1:08 PM on September 17, 2011

You might take a look at The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk for the intellectual roots (such as they are) of the modern conservative movement.
posted by jquinby at 5:39 PM on September 17, 2011

American-centric, but: Have you read Rick Perlstein's Nixonland? It's technically a biography of Nixon, but it gives a great panorama of backlash "law and order" politics in the late '60s and early '70s that laid the groundwork for the rollback of Great Society reforms. It's a behemoth, but an engaging one. Similarly, Nicholas Lemann's The Promised Land is an interesting history of the Great Migration and on-the-ground implementation of these social programs in Chicago - gives an interesting sense of how people experienced their relationship to the state. More globally, David Harvey's Brief History of Neoliberalism isn't a bad place to start - ties together 1980s and 1990s market-centric reforms in China, the U.S., the U.K., and elsewhere. Or, John Rawls?
posted by kickingthecrap at 6:30 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, or Wendy Brown's States of Injury, which is about how individuals make claims on the state. Again, U.S.-centric.
posted by kickingthecrap at 6:31 PM on September 17, 2011

When I got my degree in polisci, which admittedly is a while ago, this was the seminal book about welfare states.
posted by AwkwardPause at 6:46 PM on September 17, 2011

I thought this was a good book on the social contract.
posted by cashman at 9:24 PM on September 17, 2011

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