Comment: Restoring Class to State Unemployment Insurance Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • There has been a recent tendency, with deep historical roots in structural-functionalism and elite analyses, to insulate the state from class formations and struggles. Reacting against classical Marxist and neo-Marxist attempts to locate certain features of state policy in the class struggles of capitalist formations, there has been a reversion to “explaining” state policy solely by the “internal dynamics” of state administration and the motives and intentions of their incumbents. Leslie Pal's critique of my work in his article is yet another attempt in this tradition. After critiquing my “narrow” use of “relative autonomy” and “rigid” reliance on “class struggle” to account for the introduction of the Employment and Social Insurance Act of 1935 and the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1940, he offers an alternative classless “model” which relies heavily on actuarial ideology and federal-provincial relations in the dynamics of internal state administration. In light of his use of my work as a point of departure, I will make only a few salient points. My comments are divided into two parts: theoretical assumptions and the class nature of actuarial ideology.

publication date

  • March 1986