The book outlines traditional linkages between citizenship and public participation, national identity and social welfare, and shows the relevance of citizenship for a range of rising issues extending from global change through gender to the environment. The areas investigated include: the challenge of internationalization to the nation state and to national identities; the contested nature of citizenship in relation to poverty, work and welfare; the implications of gender inequality; and the potential for new conceptions of citizenship in response to cultural and political change.
Miller also explores a neglected aspect of Michel Foucault's concerns about citizenship and subjectivity when examining the power of institutions and bureaucracies in creating and precluding political identities. Of particular interest to scholars and students involved with American political history and theory and the sociology of work/education/war and conflict.
"The election happened," remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the Department of Energy. "And then there was radio silence." Across all departments, similar stories were playing out: Trump appointees were few and far between; those that did show up were shockingly uninformed about the functions of their new workplace. Some even threw away the briefing books that had been prepared for them.
Michael Lewis’s brilliant narrative takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its own leaders. In Agriculture the funding of vital programs like food stamps and school lunches is being slashed. The Commerce Department may not have enough staff to conduct the 2020 Census properly. Over at Energy, where international nuclear risk is managed, it’s not clear there will be enough inspectors to track and locate black market uranium before terrorists do.
Willful ignorance plays a role in these looming disasters. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gains without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing those costs. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is upside to ignorance, and downside to knowledge. Knowledge makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview.
If there are dangerous fools in this book, there are also heroes, unsung, of course. They are the linchpins of the system—those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running. Michael Lewis finds them, and he asks them what keeps them up at night.