Countermobilization: Policy Feedback and Backlash in a Polarized Age (Chicago Studies in American Politics) (Paperback)

Countermobilization: Policy Feedback and Backlash in a Polarized Age (Chicago Studies in American Politics) By Eric M. Patashnik Cover Image

Countermobilization: Policy Feedback and Backlash in a Polarized Age (Chicago Studies in American Politics) (Paperback)


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An essential look at how and why backlash movements are inherent to US policymaking.

The most successful policies not only solve problems. They also build supportive coalitions. Yet, sometimes, policies trigger backlash and mobilize opposition. Although backlash is not a new phenomenon, today’s political landscape is distinguished by the frequency and pervasiveness of backlash in nearly every area of US policymaking, from abortion rights to the Affordable Care Act.

Eric M. Patashnik develops a policy-centered theory of backlash that illuminates how policies stimulate backlashes by imposing losses, overreaching, or challenging existing arrangements to which people are strongly attached. Drawing on case studies of issues from immigration and trade to healthcare and gun control, Countermobilization shows that backlash politics is fueled by polarization, cultural shifts, and negative feedback from the activist government itself. It also offers crucial insights to help identify and navigate backlash risks.

Eric M. Patashnik is the Julis-Rabinowitz Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Brown University. He is the author or editor of several books, including Reforms at Risk.
Product Details ISBN: 9780226829890
ISBN-10: 0226829898
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: December 26th, 2023
Pages: 256
Language: English
Series: Chicago Studies in American Politics
“It turns out that all actions do not have an equal and opposite reaction. Bringing long overdue attention to the politics of backlash, Eric Patashnik’s masterful analysis tells us why. His arguments will be valuable not only for observers trying to make sense of our ever-more conflictual politics, but for practical policymakers seeking to design reforms that can stand the test of time.”
— Paul Pierson | University of California, Berkeley

"Leading policy analyst Eric Patashnik has done it again. He offers a wide-ranging yet penetrating theory of backlash politics, helping us understand when and why the public or organized interests will rise up against enacted policies. Backlash will stand alongside positive feedback, increasing returns, drift, and Patashnik’s own 'durability' as a powerful tool for assessing the life course of public policies."
— Andrea Louise Campbell | author of "How Policies Make Citizens: Senior Political Activism and the American Welfare State"

“Contemporary American politics is incomprehensible without understanding the politics of backlash, as Patashnik demonstrates in this deeply researched and profoundly insightful book. By analyzing a kaleidoscopic array of policies, he reveals how policies themselves contribute to the politics that unfolds. A tour de force.”
— Suzanne Mettler | Cornell University

“Political backlashes often feel like brush fires that came from nowhere. In this powerful book, Eric Patashnik shows that they are driven by predictable—and therefore at least somewhat avoidable—dynamics. No practitioner of public policy should design efforts at reform without taking into account the invaluable lessons of this pathbreaking book.”
— Steven Teles | author of "The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement: The Battle for Control of the Law"