Föderalismus pp 134-156 | Cite as

Federalism in the United States of America: A Continual Tension Between Persons and Places

  • John Kincaid
Part of the Politische Vierteljahresschrift Sonderheft book series (PVS, volume 32)


The development of American federalism since the 1780s can be analyzed from various perspectives. The approach taken here will focus on conflicting normative values attributed to the federal arrangement and on changes in those values that have altered this arrangement — in particular, the rise of federal power and of coercive federalism during the latter half of the last century. The basic argument is that the development of American federalism has been substantially shaped by what, in shorthand, can be called a continual tension between persons and places. That is, is the United States a union of persons in which individualism and individual rights are paramount, or is the United States a union of places in which communitarianism and the states as polities are paramount? This tension stems from compromises embedded in the founding of the federal union, compromises necessitated by the fact that this tension was not only present at the founding but also predated it by some 160 years.


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Kincaid

There are no affiliations available

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