Prof. Andrea Campbell receives APSA's 2021 Aaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Award

MIT Politicial Science Department

Andrea Louise Campbell

Andrea L. Campbell, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science

Image: Stuart Darsch

Join the department in congratulating Andrea L. Campbell, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, who has been awarded the 2021 Aaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Award, for her book How Policies Make Citizens: Senior Political Activism and the American Welfare State. The award recognizes books or articles published in the last ten to twenty years that continue to influence the study of public policy.

From the American Political Science Association (APSA) award committee:

"Eighteen years ago, Andrea Campbell’s first book was published: How Policies Make Citizens: Senior Political Activism and the American Welfare State. It would have been a novel contribution for its subject matter alone, a study of pillars of the US welfare state, Social Security and Medicare, that showed something entirely new about them: how they affected seniors’ political engagement, and in so doing, made the programs politically sustainable. But what has made the book so pathbreaking and influential, still nearly two decades on, is its theoretical argument about policy feedback. No previous work had produced such a detailed and complete picture of how policies shape citizens’ political activity and interest, underwrite interest group formation, organize group mobilization efforts, and ultimately “feed back” to influence paths of policy development. It is a rich, detailed, and nuanced historical study of developments as they unfolded over time, finely attuned to the interplay of institutions, policies, and patterns of political action.

Campbell explains how group mobilization produced effective responses to threats to the program, how low-income seniors disproportionately responded with greater involvement in politics, and how Congress became responsive to seniors’ activism. The book is innovative in its use of multiple data sets, including a time series cross-sectional dataset assembled from the Roper Social and Political Trends Archive and congressional roll-call data. It compares citizens’ responses to several other policies, as well as these relatively generous ones for seniors.

Today, the book remains a leading example of how scholars can effectively bridge the study of political behavior and the study of public policies and groups. Widely cited and admired, How Policies Make Citizens is a trail-blazing work of political analysis that has deeply influenced scholars of American politics, comparative politics, public policy, and public administration. The book brings us back to our roots in the study of public policy and embodies the idea that policy creates and curates its own politics. This notion is perhaps the field’s greatest lesson to scholars and practitioners of all types, and the book offers us this crucial lesson in stunning relief."
Committee: Suzanne Mettler (chair), Joe Soss, and Samuel Workman