Politics during crises : a review of existing literature
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This MA Report explores existing literature pertaining to three aspects of politics during or directly following crises in the United States: state-building, suppression or expansion of civil liberties, and enduring alterations to the American social hierarchy. While acknowledging the many insights of all three areas of literature, the Report argues that literature on state-building is too concentrated on formal, top-down explanations. As a result, it neglects the crucial dependence state-building has on aspects, such as the active participation of civil society groups. The Report further argues that political science’s absence from research literature on civil liberties during crises needs to end. The abundance of legal and historical accounts on this subject offers a wealth of descriptive insights. However, they fail to offer causal explanations for why crises have such an inconsistent and dynamic impact on civil liberties. Finally, research over the impact of crises on American social hierarchies needs to move away from assuming social groups’ interests a priori. Instead, scholars should attempt to unearth what these interests actually were among these groups within the historical context given, looking specifically to the discursive contests among social groups as they attempt to frame crises in advantageous ways.