Suzanne Mettler

The Government-Citizen Disconnect

Russell Sage Foundation Press 2018

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books Network August 9, 2018 Heath Brown

One of the paradoxes of US politics today is the widely dispersed benefits, but overall distrust, of government. Citizens enjoy many types of social...

One of the paradoxes of US politics today is the widely dispersed benefits, but overall distrust, of government. Citizens enjoy many types of social policy, yet reject the process that provides for much aid to individual health, income, and education.  What explains this paradox?

In The Government-Citizen Disconnect (Russell Sage Foundation Press 2018), Suzanne Mettler finds several answers. Metter is the Clinton Rossiter Professor of American Institutions in the Government Department at Cornell University.

Relying on original survey data, Mettler finds that nearly all Americans participate in some form of social policy, though many are largely unaware of it. This unawareness reflects the design of policies within the “submerged state” which hides several public benefits provided through intricacies of the tax code. In part a result, many Americans reject government programs in general as not directly beneficial to them, and support an anti-social policy agenda in Congress. In a period of increasing polarization, this long-standing pattern of American public opinion has been exacerbated and has the potential to undermine social equality and democracy.


This podcast was hosted by Heath Brown, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, John Jay College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. You can follow him on Twitter @heathbrown.

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