Social Security, privatization, ideology, politics, social movements, social policy, policy analysis, Social Movement Theory


We document the cumulative change in expressions of support for Social Security's social insurance ideals to privatization,from the late 1970s through 2007. Social Security's basic structure and principles generally were supported by the United States government and in amendments to the original Act of 1935. However, in the 1980s market arguments began to proliferate in government alongside pension privatization projects by international governmental organizations and conservative think tanks. Although in 1983 Commission members concluded "the Social Security system is sound in principle.. and... structure," four members wrote a supplemental statement that emphasized market rationalism. By 1994 dissension in Congress was apparent. The history of Social Security privatization reveals an increasing ideological alignment on the political agenda among transnational organizations, financial institutions, conservative think tanks, Congress, Presidents, and the Social Security Commission and Board of Trustees. Our research denotes the ideological alignments that formed thefoundation for a politically motivated social movement.

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