A troubling portrait of democracy in US state legislatures.
State legislatures hold tremendous authority over key facets of our lives, ranging from healthcare to marriage to immigration policy. In theory, elections create incentives for state legislators to produce good policies. But do they?
Drawing on wide-ranging quantitative and qualitative evidence, Steven Rogers offers the most comprehensive assessment of this question to date, testing different potential mechanisms of accountability. His findings are sobering: almost ninety percent of American voters do not know who their state legislator is; over one-third of incumbent legislators run unchallenged in both primary and general elections; and election outcomes have little relationship with legislators’ own behavior.
Rogers’s analysis of state legislatures highlights the costs of our highly nationalized politics, challenging theories of democratic accountability and providing a troubling picture of democracy in the states.
According to a recent Institute of Medicine report, as many as 98,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical error—a figure higher than deaths from automobile accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS. That astounding number of fatalities does not include the number of those serious mistakes that are grievous and damaging but not fatal. Who can forget the tragic case of 17-year-old Jésica Santillán, who died after receiving a heart-lung transplant with an incompatible blood type? What can be done about this? What should be done? How can patients and their families regain a sense of trust in the hospitals and clinicians that care for them? Where do we even begin the discussion?
Accountability brings the issue to the table in response to the demand for patient safety and increased accountability regarding medical errors. In an interdisciplinary approach, Virginia Sharpe draws together the insights of patients and families who have suffered harm, institutional leaders galvanized to reform by tragic events in their own hospitals, philosophers, historians, and legal theorists. Many errors can be traced to flaws in complex systems of health care delivery, not flaws in individual performance. How then should we structure responsibility for medical mistakes so that justice for the injured can be achieved alongside the collection of information that can improve systems and prevent future error? Bringing together authoritative voices of family members, health care providers, and scholars—from such disciplines as medical history, economics, health policy, law, philosophy, and theology—this book examines how conventional structures of accountability in law and medical structure (structures paradoxically at odds with justice and safety) should be replaced by more ethically informed federal, state, and institutional policies. Accountability calls for public policy that creates not only systems capable of openness concerning safety and error—but policy that also delivers just compensation and honest and humane treatment to those patients and families who have suffered from harmful medical error.
digitalculturebooks is an imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library dedicated to publishing innovative and accessible work exploring new media and their impact on society, culture, and scholarly communication. Visit the website at www.digitalculture.org.
"Accountability" is a watchword of our era. Dissatisfaction with a range of public and private institutions is widespread and often expressed in strong critical rhetoric. The reasons for these views are varied and difficult to translate into concrete action, but this hasn't deterred governments and nongovernmental organizations from putting into place formal processes for determining whether their own and others' goals have been achieved and problems with performance have been avoided.
In this thought-provoking book, government and public administration scholar Beryl Radin takes on many of the assumptions of the performance movement, arguing that evaluation relies too often on simplistic, one-size-fits-all solutions that are not always effective for dynamic organizations. Drawing on a wide range of ideas, including theories of intelligence and modes of thought, assumptions about numbers and information, and the nature of professionalism, Radin sheds light on the hidden complexities of creating standards to evaluate performance. She illustrates these problems by discussing a range of program areas, including health efforts as well as the education program, "No Child Left Behind."
Throughout, the author devotes particular attention to concerns about government standards, from accounting for issues of equity to allowing for complicated intergovernmental relationships and fragmentation of powers. She explores in detail how recent performance measurement efforts in the U.S. government have fared, and analyzes efforts by nongovernmental organizations both inside and outside of the United States to impose standards of integrity and equity on their governments. The examination concludes with alternative assumptions and lessons for those embarking on performance measurement activities.
Elites and the Politics of Accountability in Africa examines the ways that accountability offers an effective interpretive lens to the social, cultural, and institutional struggles of both the elites and ordinary citizens in Africa. Each chapter investigates questions of power, its public deliberation, and its negotiation in Africa by studying elites through the framework of accountability. The book enters conversations about political subjectivity and agency, especially from ongoing struggles around identities and belonging, as well as representation and legitimacy. Who speaks to whom? And on whose behalf do they speak? The contributors to this volume offer careful analyses of how such concerns are embedded in wider forms of cultural, social, and institutional discussions about transparency, collective responsibility, community, and public decision-making processes. These concerns affect prospects for democratic oversight, as well as questions of alienation, exclusivity, privilege and democratic deficit. The book situates our understanding of the emergence, meaning, and conceptual relevance of elite accountability, to study political practices in Africa. It then juxtaposes this contextualization of accountability in relation to the practices of African elites. Elites and the Politics of Accountability in Africa offers fresh, dynamic, and multifarious accounts of elites and their practices of accountability and locally plausible self-legitimation, as well as illuminating accounts of contemporary African elites in relation to their socially and historicallysituated outcomes of contingency, composition, negotiation, and compromise.
Students and the public routinely consult various published college rankings to assess the quality of colleges and universities and easily compare different schools. However, many institutions have responded to the rankings in ways that benefit neither the schools nor their students. In Engines of Anxiety, sociologists Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder delve deep into the mechanisms of law school rankings, which have become a top priority within legal education. Based on a wealth of observational data and over 200 in-depth interviews with law students, university deans, and other administrators, they show how the scramble for high rankings has affected the missions and practices of many law schools.
Engines of Anxiety tracks how rankings, such as those published annually by the U.S. News & World Report, permeate every aspect of legal education, beginning with the admissions process. The authors find that prospective law students not only rely heavily on such rankings to evaluate school quality, but also internalize rankings as expressions of their own abilities and flaws. For example, they often view rejections from “first-tier” schools as a sign of personal failure. The rankings also affect the decisions of admissions officers, who try to balance admitting diverse classes with preserving the school’s ranking, which is dependent on factors such as the median LSAT score of the entering class. Espeland and Sauder find that law schools face pressure to admit applicants with high test scores over lower-scoring candidates who possess other favorable credentials.
Engines of Anxiety also reveals how rankings have influenced law schools’ career service departments. Because graduates’ job placements play a major role in the rankings, many institutions have shifted their career-services resources toward tracking placements, and away from counseling and network-building. In turn, law firms regularly use school rankings to recruit and screen job candidates, perpetuating a cycle in which highly ranked schools enjoy increasing prestige. As a result, the rankings create and reinforce a rigid hierarchy that penalizes lower-tier schools that do not conform to the restrictive standards used in the rankings. The authors show that as law schools compete to improve their rankings, their programs become more homogenized and less accessible to non-traditional students.
The ranking system is considered a valuable resource for learning about more than 200 law schools. Yet, Engines of Anxiety shows that the drive to increase a school’s rankings has negative consequences for students, educators, and administrators and has implications for all educational programs that are quantified in similar ways.
Hemispheric Blackness and the Exigencies of Accountability examines the way Afrodescendant and Black communities use the land on which they live, the rule of law, and their bodies to assert their historical, ontological, and physical presence across South, Central, and North America. Their demand for the recognition of ancestral lands, responsive policies, and human rights sheds new light on their permanent yet tenuous presence throughout the region. The authors argue that by deploying a discourse of transcontinental historical continuity, Black communities assert their presence in local, national, and international political spheres. This conceptualization of hemispheric Blackness is the driving force confronting the historical loss, dismissal, and disparagement of Black lives across the Américas. Through twelve case studies that cover a wide range of locations, their work examines contemporary manifestations of sovereignty of Black body and mind, Black-Indigenous nexuses, and national revisions that challenge more than a quincentennial of denial and state unaccountability in the hemisphere.
Power Beyond Scrutiny uncovers the forces which distort and limit public debate in the media. From the misuse of politicians' expenses to recent phone hacking scandals, establishment corruption has never been more in the headlines. Yet amidst the din there have been seismic silences.
Justin Schlosberg interrogates these silences - why did a plea bargain which allowed Britain’s biggest arms company to escape bribery prosecution go almost entirely unchallenged in television news? Why did journalists routinely endorse the official explanation of how intelligence analyst David Kelly died, whilst all but ignoring mounting evidence which undermined it? Why, in 2010, did broadcasters offer an unchallenged platform to critics of Wikileaks but not its supporters?
These are some of the questions and imbalances that Schlosberg seeks to address as he explains the nature of public debate in the digital age. In doing so he uncovers a range of news blockages that are more than just accidents of a fragmented, chaotic mediascape. They are ultimately ideological forces which ensure that contestability and dissent remain within definable limits.
Why should we avoid doing moral wrong? The inability of philosophy to answer this question in a compelling manner—along with the moral skepticism and ethical confusion that ensue—result, Stephen Darwall argues, from our failure to appreciate the essentially interpersonal character of moral obligation. After showing how attempts to vindicate morality have tended to change the subject—falling back on nonmoral values or practical, first-person considerations—Darwall elaborates the interpersonal nature of moral obligations: their inherent link to our responsibilities to one another as members of the moral community.
As Darwall defines it, the concept of moral obligation has an irreducibly second-person aspect; it presupposes our authority to make claims and demands on one another. And so too do many other central notions, including those of rights, the dignity of and respect for persons, and the very concept of person itself. The result is nothing less than a fundamental reorientation of moral theory that enables it at last to account for morality's supreme authority—an account that Darwall carries from the realm of theory to the practical world of second-person attitudes, emotions, and actions.
Despite the idealism represented by the No Child Left Behind law’s mandate for accountability in education, deaf students historically and on average have performed far below grade level on standardized tests. To resolve this contradiction in deaf education, this collection presents a spectrum of perspectives from a diverse corps of education experts to suggest a constructive synthesis of worthy ideals, hard realities, and pragmatic solutions. Contributors to this study include volume editors Robert C. Johnson and Ross E. Mitchell, Ed Bosso, Michael Bello, Betsy J. Case, Patrick Costello, Stephanie W. Cawthon, Joseph E. Fischgrund, Courtney Foster, Christopher Johnstone, Michael Jones, Jana Lollis, Pat Moore, Barbara Raimondo, Suzanne Recane, Richard C. Steffan, Jr., Sandra J. Thompson, Martha L. Thurlow, and Elizabeth Towles-Reeves.
These noted educators and researchers employ experiences from Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois and California to support their findings about the dilemma facing deaf students and their teachers. They assess the intent and flexibility of federal law; achievement data regarding deaf students; potential accommodations and universal design to make tests more accessible; possible alternatives for deaf student not ready for conventional assessments; accounts of varying degrees of cooperation and conflict between schools and state education departments; and the day-to-day efforts of teachers and school administrators to help deaf students measure up to the new standards. By presenting these wide-ranging insights together, Testing Deaf Students in an Age of Accountability provides a unique opportunity to create genuine means to educate deaf students for the only test that matters, that of life.
Schools are places of learning but they are also workplaces, and teachers are employees. As such, are teachers more akin to professionals or to factory workers in the amount of control they have over their work? And what difference does it make?
Drawing on large national surveys as well as wide-ranging interviews with high school teachers and administrators, Richard Ingersoll reveals the shortcomings in the two opposing viewpoints that dominate thought on this subject: that schools are too decentralized and lack adequate control and accountability; and that schools are too centralized, giving teachers too little autonomy. Both views, he shows, overlook one of the most important parts of teachers' work: schools are not simply organizations engineered to deliver academic instruction to students, as measured by test scores; schools and teachers also play a large part in the social and behavioral development of our children. As a result, both views overlook the power of implicit social controls in schools that are virtually invisible to outsiders but keenly felt by insiders. Given these blind spots, this book demonstrates that reforms from either camp begin with inaccurate premises about how schools work and so are bound not only to fail, but to exacerbate the problems they propose to solve.
Dilemmas from climate change to financial meltdowns make it clear that global interconnectedness is the norm in the twenty-first century. As a result, global governance organizations (GGOs)—from the World Trade Organization to the Forest Stewardship Council—have taken on prominent roles in the management of international affairs. These GGOs create and promulgate rules to address a host of pressing problems. But as World Rule reveals, they struggle to meet two challenges: building authority despite limited ability to impose sanctions and maintaining legitimacy while satisfying the demands of key constituencies whose support is essential to a global rulemaking regime.
Through a novel empirical study of twenty-five GGOs, Jonathan GS Koppell provides a clearer picture of the compromises within and the competition among these influential institutions by focusing attention on their organizational design. Analyzing four aspects of GGO organization in depth—representation and administration, the rulemaking process, adherence and enforcement, and interest group participation—Koppell describes variation systemically, identifies patterns, and offers explanations that link GGO design to the fundamental challenge of accountability in global governance.
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