The Frailty of the Strong Executive

  • Peter D. Ore University of Arizona
  • Andrew Paul Davis North Carolina State University
Keywords: Bureaucracy, Democratic Theory, Neoliberalism


This essay reflects on the contemporaneous empowerment of the executive branch under the Trump administration with regard to other branches of government, as well as the disempowerment of the nation's bureacracy. We argue that this combination leads to a simultaneously unfettered, yet feeble executive that has little oversight, yet is routinely ineffective. We explore how tensions in organizational and political theory with regard to private and public governance have presaged this administrative move. This essay concludes by discussing why elite actors might support such an unencumbered, yet ineffective executive.

Author Biographies

Peter D. Ore, University of Arizona

Peter Ore is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Arizona, and a Graduate Fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar on "Neoliberalism at the Neopopulist Crossroads." He studies infrastructural development and data production in capitalist democracies, the history of the population sciences, and the political economy of air pollution exposure. His dissertation is on state surveillance of industry from the Cold War to the present. 

Andrew Paul Davis, North Carolina State University

Andrew Davis is an assistant professor of sociology at North Carolina State University. His ongoing research interests are in political sociology, the sociology of human rights, social theory, global conflict, and quantitative methods. His most recent work applies formal organizational and network theory to understand widespread human rights violations in the global system. His research has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed outlets including Social Science Research, Poetics, the International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Punishment & Society, Comparative Sociology, Sociological Perspectives, and The Sociological Quarterly.


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