Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The chapter examines the workings of federalism and subnational government in the United States. It argues that federalism should be seen as a dynamic ecosystem in which the national government, fifty states and 90,000 local governmental units use their constitutional and extra constitutional resources to influence policy. The chapter explores the way these units collaborate and compete and it examines the scope for the states to exercise policy autonomy in areas such as taxing and spending as well as contentious social issues such as abortion policy. There are however constraints on state autonomy that come from the federal government and courts as well as from the workings of divided party government in some states. The chapter explains how these constraints operate and how the federal government sought under Trump to use its powers, especially over grants, to direct policy on such issues as illegal immigration and to favor Republican-controlled states over Democratic ones. The chapter shows that the state and local dimension of government continues to have a profound impact on the everyday lives of citizens, especially when gridlock at the federal level leaves significant gaps in social policy provision and the states are expected to fill the gaps left by federal inaction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDevelopments in American Politics 9
EditorsGillian Peele, Bruce E. Cain, Jon Herbert, Andrew Wroe
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-89739-0, 978-3-030-89740-6
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2022

Cite this