Monday, June 11, 2012

Galambos on "The Creative Society"

On Friday I participated in an author-meets-readers session at the Policy History Conference in Richmond on Louis Galambos’s The Creative Society – and the Price Americans Paid for It (Cambridge University Press, 2012).  Galambos will discuss it at the Library of Congress at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is sponsored by the Library of Congress’s John W. Kluge Center, where Galambos held the Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History in 2006.  The lecture is free and open to the public, and no tickets are required to hear him.

In addition to the book’s overall argument about the importance of the professions to the history of modern American history, The Creative Society is of interest to legal historians because of the central role Galambos gives the legal profession in building the administrative state in the early twentieth century.  The  “profession that played the leading role in [the] bitterly contested and bruising process [of state building] was the law,” he writes.  “It would largely be lawyers who would craft the compromises essential to an American democratic society.”

I’ll post an edited version of my comment shortly.  Here's what Cambridge has to say about the book:
The Creative Society is the first history to look at modern America through the eyes of its emerging ranks of professional experts including lawyers, scientists, doctors, administrators, business managers, teachers, policy specialists, and urban planners. Covering the period from the 1890s to the early twenty-first century, Louis Galambos examines the history that shaped professionals and, in turn, their role in shaping modern America. He considers the roles of education, anti-Semitism, racism, and elitism in shaping and defining the professional cadre and examines how matters of gender, race, and ethnicity determined whether women, African Americans, and immigrants from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East were admitted to the professional ranks. He also discusses the role professionals played in urbanizing the United States, keeping the economy efficient and innovative, showing the government how to provide the people a greater measure of security and equity, and guiding the world's leading industrial power in coping with its complex, frequently dangerous foreign relations.
The table of contents and preface are here.  Galambos discusses the book in a Q&A format here. The book is available in paperback and would be a nice starting point for a seminar on the history of the professions, followed, perhaps, with a work of sociology, such as Eliot Freidson's Professionalism: The Third Logic, which is also available in paper.