What We Are Reading Today: Democratic Federalism

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Updated 04 June 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Democratic Federalism

Authors: Robert Inman and Daniel L. Rubinfeld

Around the world, federalism has emerged as the system of choice for nascent republics and established nations alike. In this book, leading scholars and governmental advisers Robert Inman and Daniel Rubinfeld consider the most promising forms of federal governance and the most effective path to enacting federal policies. 

The result is an essential guide to federalism, its principles, its applications, and its potential to enhance democratic governance.

Drawing on the latest work from economics, political science, and law, Inman and Rubinfeld assess different models of federalism and their relative abilities to promote economic efficiency, encourage the participation of citizens, and protect individual liberties. Under the right conditions, the authors argue, a federal democracy—including a national legislature with locally elected representatives—can best achieve these goals. Because a stable union between the national and local governments is key, Inman and Rubinfeld also propose an innovative method for evaluating new federal laws and their possible impact on state and local governments. Finally, to show what the adoption of federalism can mean for citizens, the authors discuss the evolution of governance in the European Union and South Africa’s transition from apartheid to a multiracial democracy.

Interdisciplinary in approach, Democratic Federalism brims with applicable policy ideas and comparative case studies of global significance. This book is indispensable for understanding the importance of federal forms of government—both in recent history and, crucially, for future democracies.


What We Are Reading Today: Factory Girls by E. Patricia Tsurumi

Updated 07 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Factory Girls by E. Patricia Tsurumi

Investigating the enormous contribution made by female textile workers to early industrialization in Meiji Japan, Patricia Tsurumi vividly documents not only their hardships but also their triumphs. While their skills and long hours created profits for factory owners that in turn benefited the state, the labor of these women and girls enabled their tenant farming families to continue paying high rents in the countryside. 

Tsurumi shows that through their experiences as Japan’s first modern factory workers, these “factory girls” developed an identity that played a crucial role in the history of the Japanese working class. Much of this story is based on records the factory girls themselves left behind, including their songs. “It is a delight to receive a meticulous and comprehensive volume on the plight of women who pioneered (assembly plant) employment in Asia a century ago ….” — L. L. Cornell, The Journal of Asian Studies “Tsurumi writes of these rural women with compassion and treats them as sentient, valuable individuals …. [Many] readers will find these pages informative and thought provoking.” — Sally Ann Hastings, Monumenta Niponica.