Pierson, Paul 1950–
Pierson, Paul 1950–
Writer, political philosopher, and educator. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, assistant professor, 1989-93, associate professor, 1993-96, professor of government, 1996-2003, Harold Hitchings Burbank Professor of Political Economy, 2003-04; University of California, Berkeley, professor of political science, 2004—, holder of the Avice Saint Chair of Public Policy, chair of the department of political science, 2007—. European University Institute, Jean Monnet visiting professorship, 1997.
American Political Science Association (member, Heinz Eulau award committee, 2000; chair, nominations committee, Qualitative section, 2003; president, politics and history section, 2003-04).
Recipient of a scholarship from the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, 1979-83; Comfort-Starr prize, Oberlin College, 1981; Nuffield College Exchange fellow, 1985; pre-dissertation grant, Council on European Studies, 1985; Mellon fellow, 1986-87; Oberlin College Alumni fellow, 1987; Brookings fellow, 1987-88; Russell Sage fellow, 1994-95; Gladys M. Kammerer award, American Political Science Association (APSA), for Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan, Thatcher, and the Politics of Retrenchment, 1995; German Marshall fellow, 1996; Simon R. Guggenheim fellow, 1999; Jean Monnet fellow, 1999; Weatherhead fellow, 1999; Heinz Eualu award, APSA, for "Increasing Returns, Path Dependence, and the Study of Politics," 2000.
European Social Policy: Between Fragmentation and Integration, Brookings Institution (Washington, DC), 1995.
Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2004.
(Editor, with Theda Skocpol) The Transformation of American Politics: Activist Government and the Rise of Conservatism, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2007.
Contributor to books, including Do Institutions Matter? Government Capabilities in the United States and Abroad, edited by R. Kent Weaver and Bert A. Rockman, Brookings Institution (Washington, DC), 1993; Economic Security and Intergenerational Justice, edited by Theodore R. Marmor, Timothy M. Smeeding, and Vernon L. Greene, Urban Institute Press (Washington, DC), 1994; Policy-Making in the European Community, edited by Helen Wallace and William Wallace, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1996; Policy-Making in the European Union, edited by Helen Wallace and William Wallace, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2000; Capitalism and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe: Assessing the Legacy of Communist Rule, edited by Grzegorz Ekiert and Stephen E. Hanson, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 2003; Rethinking Political Institutions: The Art of the State, edited by Ian Shapiro, Stephen Skowronek, and Daniel Galvin, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor of essays and articles to periodicals, including Comparative Political Studies, Perspectives on Politics, Journal of Policy History, Studies in American Political Development, and World Politics. Member of the editorial boards of publications, such as the American Political Science Review, Annual Review of Political Science, Journal of Policy History, Journal of European Social Policy, and Journal of European Public Policy.
American political philosopher Paul Pierson was raised in Eugene, Oregon, home to the University of Oregon, where his mother and father both held professional academic posts. Attracted by its reputation for outstanding teaching practices, Pierson attended Oberlin College in Ohio, where he earned a bachelor's degree in government in 1981 with the added distinction of highest honors. He then attended Yale University where he received his master of arts and master of philosophy degrees in 1986 and, influenced by figures such as Robert Dahl and Charles Lindbloom, his Ph.D. in political science in 1989. He accepted a teaching post at Harvard University in 1993 and continued his career there until 2004, advancing from assistant professor to Harold Hitchings Burbank professor of political economy, when he transitioned to the University of California, Berkeley, as professor of political science. He published his first nonfiction text, titled Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan, Thatcher, and the Politics of Retrenchment, in 1994, followed by European Social Policy: Between Fragmentation and Integration in 1995, The New Politics of the Welfare State in 2001, Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis in 2004, Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy in 2005, and The Transformation of American Politics: Activist Government and the Rise of Conservatism in 2007.
Based largely upon his doctoral work, Dismantling the Welfare State? addresses the legislative maneuvering of two of the world's most powerful Western leaders during the 1980s, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. As a central thesis, Pierson uses the field of comparative politics as the lens with which to deconstruct their political measures involving social programs and place them into a larger social and historical context. In what an Economist reviewer called a "path-breaking study," Pierson compares and contrasts these leaders' actions, examining the degree to which each attempted to fulfill their own, as well as their party's, agendas despite their general unpopularity with the public and to what extent each was successful in doing so. Likewise, European Social Policy seeks to display the political formation and shaping of the European Union (EU) using a broad-spectrum comparison of the different levels of its policymaking. As Stanley Hoffmann stated in Foreign Affairs, it employs "a thorough empirical investigation with a sophisticated yet readable theoretical treatment" of the levels of agency within the EU. The book covers a spectrum of topics including agricultural, social, immigration, and sovereignty policies and reforms in an anthology of twelve scholarly essays. The New Politics of the Welfare State also contains a breadth of information regarding political social policy in the form of collective essays, but unlike European Social Policy's study of multistoried government agency in relation to its own practices, its primary thesis, according to Robert C. Lieberman in the Political Science Quarterly, "challenges the widely accepted notion that globalization will lead advanced industrial countries to roll back their welfare states and converge on a uniform, neoliberal model of social provision" and "asks how variations in national political structures and processes affect welfare politics and policy." The New Politics of the Welfare State examines several global institutions, their programs, and their markets in an effort to determine what pressures lay with each and whether a unified response to shared social issues is achievable.
In breaking with his study of the particular mechanics and operations of government, Pierson's Politics in Time takes issue with the manner in which academia studies the political arena, specifically the favoring of theory over analysis. He advocates using a historical model, the contextualization of events in viewing the political era as a shaped and evolving organic entity rather than as a set of cause and effect singularities. Pierson, in an interview with Harry Kreisler on the Conversations with History Web site, called the absence of this historical contextualization "a snapshot rather than a moving picture view of the social world" where one cannot fully understand the events as they happen "in time and through time." Politics in Time intends to broaden the scope of political philosophy and includes contributions from the fields of economic history as well as historical analysis.
Whereas Politics in Time addresses Pierson's prescribed modes of political study, Off Center, written with Jacob S. Hacker, incorporates them in its attempt to answer questions regarding the Republican Party's conservative shift in the United States, and, reminiscent of Dismantling the Welfare State?, it observes the schism between public approval, institutional action, and party accountability. Off Center dissects the Republican Party's tactics and agendas by providing as examples: the contemporary shift of the South from a democratic to conservative majority, the 2001 tax cut legislation, and the perceived hegemonic practices that sustain the party's power. Matthew Yglesias, in the American Prospect, stated that Off Center "is executed with a deft balance of grace and rigor," and Political Science Quarterly contributor Todd L. Belt noted that the text is "compelling" and "delivers a forceful explanation" of Republican policymaking success.
Pierson's The Transformation of American Politics also discusses, in essays and contributions, the argued conservative predominance in contemporary American politics, the increased degree to which this new politics is involved in the public's lives, and the longevity of conservative polity. The Transformation of American Politics addresses, in several contributor chapters, the public's voting practices, economic insecurity, and a more detailed commentary charting conservative progress in Congress specifically since the 1970s.
Paul Pierson is the recipient of the Heinz Eulau Award for best article in the American Political Science Review for the year 2000 and has received numerous merit and fellowship awards during his professional academic career. His research interests include comparative political economy, American public policy and politics, and social theory. He has served as the Avice Saint Chair of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, as president of the Politics and History section of the American Political Science Association (APSA), and on the editorial boards of publications such as the American Political Science Review, the Annual Review of Political Science, the Journal of Policy History, the Journal of European Social Policy, and the Journal of European Public Policy.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Journal of Sociology, September 1, 1995, Alba Alexander, review of Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan, Thatcher, and the Politics of Retrenchment, p. 505.
American Prospect, November 1, 2005, Matthew Yglesias, "How They Did It," p. 41.
Australian Journal of Political Science, December 1, 2005, Mark Considine, review of Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis, p. 575.
Book World, November 6, 2005, review of Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy, p. 8.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, September 1, 1995, G.L. Malecha, review of Dismantling the Welfare State?, p. 211; February 1, 2006, E.C. Dreyer, review of Off Center, p. 1092.
Comparative Political Studies, October 1, 1995, Desmond King, review of Dismantling the Welfare State?, p. 475; April 1, 1997, James A. Caporaso, review of European Social Policy: Between Fragmentation and Integration, p. 242.
Contemporary Sociology, September 1, 1995, John O'Connor, review of Dismantling the Welfare State?, p. 635; November 1, 1996, Mary Ruggie, review of European Social Policy, p. 743.
Dissent, January 1, 2006, "Defying Gravity," p. 97.
Economist, July 15, 1995, review of Dismantling the Welfare State?, p. 72.
Foreign Affairs, March 1, 1996, Stanley Hoffmann, review of European Social Policy, p. 155.
Government and Opposition, September 22, 1996, Catherine Jones Finer, review of European Social Policy, p. 497.
Independent Review, January 1, 1998, William A. Niskanen, review of Dismantling the Welfare State?, p. 465; September 22, 2006, Andrew R. Rutten, review of Politics in Time, p. 299.
International Affairs, October 1, 1996, Soledad Garcia, review of European Social Policy, p. 832.
Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, April 1, 1998, Kieke G.H. Okma, review of Dismantling the Welfare State?, p. 397.
Journal of Politics, August 1, 1996, Gunther M. Hega, review of Dismantling the Welfare State?, p. 917.
Journal of Public Policy, May 1, 1995, Rudolf Klein, review of Dismantling the Welfare State?, p. 199.
Journal of Social Policy, October 1, 1996, Ian Gough, review of Dismantling the Welfare State?, p. 575; October 1, 1996, Ian Gough, review of European Social Policy, p. 575.
Political Quarterly, April 1, 2004, review of The New Politics of the Welfare State.
Political Science Quarterly, September 22, 2002, Robert C. Lieberman, review of The New Politics of the Welfare State, p. 525; September 22, 2006, Todd L. Belt, review of Off Center, p. 512.
Prairie Schooner, September 22, 2002, review of The New Politics of the Welfare State, p. 525.
Public Administration, September 22, 1996, David Dolowitz, review of Dismantling the Welfare State?, p. 554.
Sociology, November 1, 1996, Sue Peena, review of European Social Policy, p. 821.
Virginia Quarterly Review, March 22, 2006, Gerard Alexander, review of Off Center, p. 315.
Conversations with History,http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/ (December 1, 2005), Harry Kreisler, author interview.
UC Berkeley Web site,http://polisci.berkeley.edu/ (April 14, 2008), faculty profile.