The Public Interest

The Limitations of Structural Analysis

Lawrence M. Mead

Fall 1989

SOCIAL-DEMOCRATIC critiques of the American welfare state abound, but they often have more polemic than evidence behind them. The Politics of Social Policy in the United States is one of the best works in this genre. It is solidly researched and written with calm authority. The book has important shortcomings, but even these are instructive, for they reveal the outer limits of what “structural” analysis can say about American social problems. 

Download a PDF of the full article.



from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.