Critical Junctures and Institutional Spillover: How 9/11 is Changing the American State

WZB Distinguished Lecture in Social Sciences by Sidney G. Tarrow

Discussant: Swen Hutter, European University Institute in Florence, Italy
Moderated by Michael Zürn
Location: Room A 300

What happens to states when “everything changes”? And, in particular, how did an earth-shattering event like the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon affect the American state? A decade ago, critics feared that those events would lead the American state in the direction of a “Schmittian” emergency state. They may be right – but not for the reasons they supposed. In this lecture, Tarrow presents evidence to show that the American state did not change in so dramatic a fashion after 9/11: it changed incrementally, and sometimes in contradictory ways. Drawing on the historical sociology of Charles Tilly and on recent work in comparative historical sociology by Streeck and Thelen and others, he will discuss post-9/11 policy changes like the extension of the authorization to use military force, the conversion of techniques developed to resist torture to its employment, the militarization of the police, and the growing allowance of secret evidence in the courts to show that America may be moving towards a despotic state, not as Germany did in 1932–33, but by a series of smaller-scale mechanisms. Such mechanisms are incremental and capillary in nature and are more difficult to discern than a dramatic shift to despotism, which is why they are so dangerous to democracy.

Sidney G. Tarrow is the Emeritus Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Government at Cornell University. Tarrow has received his BA from Syracuse, his MA from Columbia, and his PhD from Berkeley Universities. His recent books are Contentious Politics (with Charles Tilly; Oxford, 2015) and War, States, and Contention (Cornell, 2015).

Swen Hutter is a postdoctoral research fellow at the European University Institute, Florence. His research interests include social movements, political parties, and cleavage structures. Hutter is the author of Protesting Culture and Economics in Western Europe (Minneapolis, 2014) and co-editor of Politicizing Europe: Integration and Mass Politics (Cambridge, 2016).

Michael Zürn is Director of the WZB research unit Global Governance.

This event is part of the WZB Distinguished Lectures in Social Sciences.

To register please reply by September 7, 2016, to Katinka von Kovatsits: katinka.kovatsits(at)wzb(dot)eu.

The WZB provides childcare during the lecture. If you are interested, please respond by September 15, 2016, indicating the number of children and their age to Friederike Theilen-Kosch: friederike.theilen-kosch(at)wzb(dot)eu.