It's a common complaint: the United States is overrun by rules and procedures that shackle professional judgment, have no valid purpose, and serve only to appease courts and lawyers. Charles R. Epp argues, however, that few Americans would want to return to an era without these legalistic policies, which in the 1970s and 1980s helped bring recalcitrant bureaucracies into line with a growing national commitment to civil rights and individual dignity.
Focusing on three disparate policy areas-workplace sexual harassment, playground safety, and police brutality in both the United States and the United Kingdom-Epp explains how activists and administrative professionals used legal liability, lawsuit-generated publicity, and innovative managerial ideas to pursue the implementation of new rights. Where previous analyses cast rights policies as symbolic responses to vague legal mandates, Making Rights Real shows how interaction between social activists and reform-oriented managers fostered frameworks that made institutions accountable through intricate rules, employee training, and managerial oversight. Explaining how these practices became ubiquitous across bureaucratic organizations, Epp casts today's legalistic state in an entirely new light.
About the Author
Charles R. Epp is associate professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Kansas.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction 1
2 Theory: The Fertile Fear of Liability 13
3 The Problem with Policing 31
4 Liability's Triumph 59
5 Policing's Epiphany 93
6 Spreading the Word: Variations among Police Department 115
7 Tort Liability and Police Reform in Britain 139
8 Sexual Harassment 165
9 Playground Safety 197
10 Conclusion 215
Methodological Appendix 233