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Bureaucracy and Self-Government

, 296 pages
August 2014



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Bureaucracy and Self-Government

Reconsidering the Role of Public Administration in American Politics

second edition

In this new edition of his provocative book Bureaucracy and Self-Government, Brian J. Cook reconsiders his thesis regarding the inescapable tension between the ideal of self-government and the reality of administratively centered governance. Revisiting his historical exploration of competing conceptions of politics, government, and public administration, Cook offers a novel way of thinking constitutionally about public administration that transcends debates about "big government."

Cook enriches his historical analysis with new scholarship and extends that analysis to the present, taking account of significant developments since the mid-1990s. Each chapter has been updated, and two new chapters sharpen Cook’s argument for recognizing a constitutive dimension in normative theorizing about public administration. The second edition also includes reviews of Jeffersonian impacts on administrative theory and practice and Jacksonian developments in national administrative structures and functions, a look at the administrative theorizing that presaged progressive reforms in civil service, and insight into the confounding complexities that characterize public thinking about administration in a postmodern political order.

Brian J. Cook is a professor of public administration and policy at Virginia Tech. He is the author of Democracy and Administration: Woodrow Wilson’s Ideas and the Challenges of Public Management, also published by Johns Hopkins.

"Cook points out the significant salutary consequences for policy development that can arise from recognizing public administration's distinct constitutive role in our regime."

"Traces, often quite nicely and originally, the tension between what the author calls 'instrumental' and 'constitutive' conceptions of public administration through American history... a provocative argument... [that] provides extensive evidence of the potency of the instrumental conception of the bureaucracy for American politicians."

"Represents a valuable addition to the literature on bureaucratic discretion in our democratic system. It should certainly become mandatory reading in public administration programs and political science departments and, it is hoped, among public officials as well. I profited greatly from it and expect that all those who read it will share similar convictions."

"Useful for advanced students and faculty... Recommended."