Federalism & Political Culture

– Wildavsky, Aaron, ed., Brendan Swedlow, David Schleicher, and Daniel Elazar. Federalism and Political Culture. New Jersey: Transaction Books, 1997.  
“Aaron Wildavsky well understood that federalism is about freedom and diversity – not hierarchy and decentralization. His was an intensely normative concern with the promise of federalism and its abandonment in the United States. Over time, he… More

Studies In Australian Politics: The 1926 Referendum

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Studies in Australian Politics. Melbourne: F.W. Cheshire, 1958.
“Though primarily a study of the extent to which the interests of particular groups may cut across party lines in Australian politics, this book contains a great deal that concerns industrial relations. The untidiness of a system of industrial… More

Moses as a Political Leader

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Moses as a Political Leader, Jerusalem, Shalem Press: 2005.
A new edition of Wildavsky’s fascinating interpretation of Moses’ political leadership, with a preface by Yoram Hazony. Allan Mittleman: “Wildavsky’s works ride from the twin convictions that the Bible has much to say to modern… More

Cultural Analysis: Politics, Public Law and Administration

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Cultural Analysis: Politics, Public Law, and Administration. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2005.
“As a result of a lifetime of incomparably wide-ranging investigations, Aaron Wildavsky concluded that politics in the United States and elsewhere was a patterned activity, exhibiting recurring regularities. Political values, beliefs, and institutions… More

The New Politics of the Budgetary Process

– Wildavsky, Aaron and Naomi Caiden. The New Politics of the Budgetary Process. New York: Longman Classics, 2003.
“This text explains how the federal budget process has evolved and analyzes recent developments in key areas: entitlements, defense, deficit/surplus and reforms. Its critical and stimulating approach and clear, readable explanations make it essential… More

Budgeting and Governing

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Budgeting and Governing. New Jersey: Transaction Books, 2001.
“Aaron Wildavsky’s greatest concern, as expressed in his writings, is how people manage to live together. This concern may at first appear to have little to do with the study of budgeting, but for Wildavsky budgeting made living together possible.… More

Culture and Social Theory

– Wildavsky, Aaron. Culture and Social Theory. New Jersey: Transaction Books, 1998.
“Aaron Wildavsky, along with Mary Douglas, identified what they called grid-group theory. Wildavsky began calling this “cultural theory,” and applied it to an astounding array of subjects. The essays in this volume exemplify the… More

But Is It True? A Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Health and Safety Issues

– Wildavsky, Aaron. But Is It True?: A Citizen's Guide to Environmental Health and Safety Issues. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.
“We’ve eaten Alar with our apples and PCBs with our fish, drunk arsenic with our water, breathed asbestos in our schools. Someone sounded the alarm, someone else said we were safe, and both had science on their side. Whom are we to trust? How are… More

The Real World Order: Zones of Peace / Zones of Turmoil

– Singer, Max and Aaron Wildavsky. The Real World Order: Zones of Peace / Zones of Turmoil. London: Chatham House Publishers, 1993.
This old-fashioned book presents a grand line of argument that “the current world order will be different and better than the one with which we are familiar.” The reason? “For the first time in history a small number of great democracies… More


Controlling Public Expenditure: The Theory of Expenditure Limitation

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Controlling Public Expenditure: The Theory of Expenditure Limitation." OECD Journal on Budgeting. Vol. 2, No. 4, 2003.  
“What don’t I mean by expenditure limitation? This paper is not about why governments should choose to limit spending. If governments wish to increase spending, that is obviously their prerogative. Moreover, they are, on the evidence, very good at… More

Is Culture the Culprit?

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Is Culture the Culprit?" Public Interest, Fall 1993.
Theory is golden. In its normative mode, it connects us to what we ought to do; in its empirical expression, it connects what we have done to the actual consequences for ourselves and for others. The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties” Legacy to the… More

Robert Bork and the Crime of Inequality

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Robert Bork and the Crime of Inequality" Public Interest, Winter 1990.
Whereas other failed nominations to the Supreme Court have sunk from public view, the debate over Judge Robert Bork gains in intensity as if the state of the nation, and not merely the fate of an individual jurist, is at issue. Far from settling the matter,… More

How to Fix the Deficit – Really

– Wildavsky, Aaron and Joseph White. "How to Fix the Deficit - Really." Public Interest, Winter 1989.
American politics in the 1980s has been dominated by Ronald Reagan and federal budget deficits. Reagan is gone now, but the deficit remains. The new President and old Congress have many objectives and concerns, articulated in the electoral campaign; yet the… More

Where Bias and Influence Meet

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Where Bias and Influence Meet" Public Interest, Spring 1988
Of the three great questions about the influence of the major media upon political opinion—Is there a systematic media bias? If so, in what direction does it flow? Is public opinion strongly influenced by the media?–the last is arguably the most… More

The Media’s ‘American Egalitarians’

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The Media's 'American Egalitarians'" Public Interest, Summer 1987.
You are listening to Public Radio or viewing network television news or reading a major newspaper or news magazine. You are certain they are biased, i.e., slanted, systematically favoring one view over another. Yet media people deny that they favor one… More

Choosing Preferences by Constructing Institutions: A Cultural Theory of Preference Formation.

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "Choosing Preferences by Constructing Institutions: A Cultural Theory of Preference Formation." American Political Science Review, Vol 81, No. 1, pp. 3-22.
“Preferences come from the most ubiquitous human activity: living with other people. Support for and opposition to different ways of life, the shared values legitimating social relations (here called cultures) are the generators of diverse preferences.… More

The ‘Reverse Sequence’ in Civil Liberties

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The 'Reverse Sequence' in Civil Liberties" Public Interest, Winter 1985.
A number of years I belonged to the American Civil Liberties Union. To me this membership was part of a commitment to perfecting American democracy. I became a political scientist for the same reason. The two commitments, American patriotism and democratic… More

The Once and Future School of Public Policy

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The Once and Future School of Public Policy," The Public Interest. Spring 1985.
“I have two partially complementary and partially opposed views. One is that schools of public policy as they now exist will continue much as they are. The other is that social developments, particularly the growing polarization of elites, will… More

The Three Cultures: Explaining Anomalies in the American Welfare State

– Wildavsky, Aaron. "The Three Cultures: Explaining Anomalies in the American Welfare State." Public Interest, Fall 1982.
In the late 1940’s, at Brooklyn College, I became aware of a political anomaly: Some of my fellow student activists were neither capitalists nor socialists nor reformists.  Certainly they were on the left (involved with civil rights, folk music, plain… More


Risk and Liberty

– The Jim Turney Collection.
From a 1987 university lecture.