Elkin, Stephen L. 1941- (Stephen Lloyd Elkin)
Elkin, Stephen L. 1941- (Stephen Lloyd Elkin)
Born March 1, 1941, in New York, NY; son of Max and Mildred Elkin; married Diana Wilson (an account representative), March 26, 1967. Education: Alfred University, B.A., 1961; Harvard University, M.A., 1963, Ph.D., 1969.
Home—Washington, DC. Office—Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. E-mail—[email protected]
Smith College, Northampton, MA, lecturer in political science, 1966-68; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, assistant professor of political science, 1968-75, Masters of Public Policy Program, Wharton School, director, 1973-75; University of Maryland, College Park, associate professor of government and politics, 1975—. Contributor to various journals, including the American Journal of Sociology, Comparative Urban Research, Public Policy, Public Opinion Quarterly, and South Atlantic Urban Studies; contributor of articles and chapters to various books; presenter at various lectures and conferences.
American Political Science Association, Committee on the Political Economy of the Good Society (executive committee, cofounder and chair, 1988—), Advisory Editorial Board, Theories of Institutional Design, Cambridge University Press, National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives (board member, 1993—), Advisory Editorial Board, Public Policy Series, Lynne Rienner Publishers, the Democracy Collaborative (principal, 1999—).
Fellow, Joint Center for Urban Studies, Harvard/MIT, 1965-66; fellow, Smith College, 1966-68; fellow, University of Pennsylvania, Depart- ment of Political Science, 1968-75; fellow of Social Science Research Council, Ford Foundation, and American Philosophical Society, all 1969-70; Leverhulme fellow at University of Leicester, 1969-70; awarded numerous research grants.
Politics and Land Use Planning: The London Experience, Cambridge University Press, 1974.
(Editor, with Roger Benjamin) The Democratic State, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1985.
City and Regime in the American Republic, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1987.
(Editor, with Karol Edward Soltan) A New Constitutionalism: Designing Political Institutions for a Good Society, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1993.
(Editor, with Karol Edward Soltan) The Constitution of Good Societies, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1996.
(Editor, with Karol Edward Soltan) Citizen Competence and Democratic Institutions, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1999.
Reconstructing the Commercial Republic: Constitutional Design after Madison, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2006.
Contributor to various journals, including the American Journal of Sociology, Comparative Urban Research, Public Policy, Public Opinion Quarterly, and South Atlantic Urban Studies; contributor of articles and chapters to various books.
Writer and educator Stephen L. Elkin was born March 1, 1941, in New York City. He earned his undergraduate degree from Alfred University, then went on to earn both his master's degree and his doctorate from Harvard University. He began his career at the University of Pennsylvania, serving as a lecturer in political science and also spending two years as the director of the masters of public policy program. In 1975, Elkin left the University of Pennsylvania and moved on to the University of Maryland in College Park, becoming an associate professor of government and politics. He has also worked variously as a visiting professor at both Beijing University in China and the Australian National University. He has contributed articles and/or chapters to a number of books and contributes regularly to journals such as the American Journal of Sociology, Comparative Urban Research, Public Policy, Public Opinion Quarterly, and South Atlantic Urban Studies. He is also the author of a number of books on politics, society, and the use of the land, including Politics and Land Use Planning: The London Experience, City and Regime in the American Republic, and Reconstructing the Commercial Republic: Constitutional Design after Madison, and the editor or coeditor of several additional volumes.
In Reconstructing the Commercial Republic, Elkin offers readers a political look at the Constitution and what it means to America, rather than the more traditional judicial point of view. This approach challenges the idea that the judicial branch of the U.S. government has the solitary right to interpret the document that is responsible for guiding the nation and for determining not only its laws but how it runs as a whole. He suggests that the lawmaking process is one that should be overseen by the people instead of only the judges and formal lawmakers, harkening back to the initial premise of the nation as being ruled for and by its citizens. He goes on to address some of the more significant problems with the United States, all of which point toward a gradual separation from its founding morals and ideals. Some of the issues that Elkin looks at are the vast gap between those who are financially well off and those who are not; a lack of enthusiasm in the population for participating in the governmental process, including a serious decline in the percentage of the population that turns out to vote; economic instabilities that are, in particular, affecting the middle classes; and ongoing disagreements between cultural groups. Elkin looks at these problems and the state as a whole from an ancient position of true democracy, addressing concerns in light of the health of the country as a single political entity. Herman Belz, in a review for the Weekly Standard, noted that, "scornful of utopian idealists, Elkin writes as a realist." He continued: "For all its insight and learning, however, Reconstructing the Commercial Republic has a kind of abstract quality…. Elkin gives insufficient consideration to the cultural and moral transformation that has occurred under the shaping effect of the New Deal regulatory/welfare state and its liberal progeny that claim ‘mainstream’ moral recognition. It is not obvious that middle-class mores, as presented here, are accurately represented in the class-based politics of the Democratic party, led by rich and well-educated ‘populists,’ and to which Elkin looks as the instrument of fully realized commercial republican aspiration."
A New Constitutionalism: Designing Political Institutions for a Good Society, which Elkin edited with Karol Edward Soltan, takes a look at the varying levels of bureaucracy that appear to develop as a matter of course within different political institutions. A number of groups of individuals are inherently untrusting when it comes to this type of bureaucracy, and therefore hesitant to assume that any organizations of these types will be able to successfully adhere to their main purpose and not strike out to follow a new, more personal agenda. The book attempts to address how the Constitution can help to prevent this vicious circle. Writing for Public Administration Review, Douglas F. Morgan dubbed the book "an exquisite collection of nine essays that recover and restore an older, much more complex understanding of the Constitution than currently prevails in popular and academic writing." However, Charles R. Shipan, in a contribution for Constitutional Commentary, opined that the essays included are "more successful at raising these questions than in answering them, or even demonstrating that our current state of knowledge allows for answers."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Constitutional Commentary, fall, 1994, Charles R. Shipan, review of A New Constitutionalism: Designing Political Institutions for a Good Society, p. 449.
Public Administration Review, September 1, 1998, Douglas F. Morgan, review of A New Constitutionalism.
Weekly Standard, April 2, 2007, Herman Belz, "Popular Government; How Can the Constitution Serve the Public Interest?"