By David M. Freeman
Booklet by way of Freeman, David M.
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Additional info for Choice against choice: constructing a policy-assessing sociology for social development
This mix of local organization and markets was seen by de Tocqueville to be a fundamental source of national strength and engine of progress in the United States. Almost a century later, in the 1920s, German and Austrian social-economists, dealing with problems of public finance, commonly used the term public household for the set of public agencies required to resolve public conflicts emergent out of mutually incompatible private activities and to satisfy public needs as against private wants.
Theodore J. Lowi won wide attention for a rather different but compelling critique of the institutions of modern liberal society as presented in The End of Liberalism: Ideology, Policy and the Crisis of Public Authority (1969). Lowi provided a penetrating examination of the weaknesses of interest-group liberalism in conducting the affairs of the public household in the United States. He concluded that the liberal state could not properly and justifiably allocate values among competing interests because it was bereft of the capacity to advance rationally a value position from which incompatible demands of competing interests could be appraised.
Nothing advanced in this argument should be taken as denigrating the crucial contributions of other disciplines to questions raised here. It is only to assert that sociologists can advance an analysis to inform developmental policy choice in interdisciplinary and cross-cultural contexts. Chapter 1 states the terms of the policy-assessment challenge by addressing four interrelated problems. First, agents of the public household must possess logically defensible value criteria for choosing among policy options in a world in which each alternative would impose a combination of benefit and harm.