Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hatcher reviews Epp, "Making Rights Real"

The Law & Politics Book Review has posted a review of Charles R. Epp, Making Rights Real: Activists, Bureaucrats, and the Creation of the Legalistic State (University of Chicago Press, 2010).

Laura J. Hatcher
(Department of Political Science, Southern Illinois University) introduces the book as follows:
As a professor who teaches administrative law and politics and is interested in the intersection of administrative law and constitutional litigation, I am always in search of theoretically-engaging and empirically grounded research for my upper division seniors and graduate students that is also readable. Charles Epp has produced such a work. In lucid prose, Epp develops an argument for understanding administrative change that takes into account pressures from within bureaucracies as well as from outside them. With a combination of interviews, content analysis of professional publications and court cases, as well as original survey data, Epp also gives his readers an excellent example of multimethod research that is driven by the question rather than a specific methodology. Through a close comparison of three case studies – policing, sexual harassment, and playground safety – Epp demonstrates that dynamic interactions among bureaucrats and activist reformers produced a framework for accountability that both proliferated throughout the country and has remained surprisingly resilient. In short, this is a book that is a must-read not only for administrative law and public administration scholars, but also for anyone interested in organizational change, social change, and litigation as a political process.
Though trained as a political scientist, not an historian, Epp (University of Kansas) has advanced an argument about change over time. Hatcher describes Making Rights Real as a story about the emergence of "legalized accountability" across different policy areas in the late 1970s and 1980s.

You can read the full review here.