Brian Gillikin

Title: The Heterogeneous State: A Pluralist Historical Analysis of U.S. Federal Agencies

Supervisor: Dr. Piret Tõnurist

Opponent: Prof. Dr. Erkki Karo

Defense: 17 August 2020


Abstract: The U.S. State is often treated as a unary polity, both by policymakers and researchers. However, qualitative and quantitative methods are limited in providing understanding into phenomena as pluralistic, mutable, and discontinuous as U.S. Federal agencies and policy that fails to understand key historical factors within the bureaucracy are prone to failure. A different approach to the State is presented here: the Heterogenous State treatment. Utilizing Abbott Payton Usher’s pluralist approach to historical analysis, a history of the U.S. bureaucracy is presented in terms of the creation, destruction, and movement of Federal agencies within three approximate periods of varied heterogeneity and homogeneity in U.S. administrative history. Through this analysis, restrained independence and dynamism are identified as important factors that have led to and sustain the heterogeneity of the U.S. State. Further, the U.S. bureaucracy is still within the ideology of the Reagan Administration and its homogeneous vision of the State, which has had lasting effects on its heterogeneity and how the State is studied for the last four decades.


Keywords: bureaucracy, public administration, historical analysis, pluralism