Federalism as Polyphony

in Polyphonic Federalism

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780226736624
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226736648 | DOI:
Federalism as Polyphony

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This chapter develops an alternative model of federalism, which is termed “polyphonic.” It specifically investigates the metaphor of polyphony and contrasts it with the dominant tropes of dualist federalism, and then further defines the nature and implications of the polyphonic conception. It argues that the interaction of state and federal power better advances the substantive goals generally associated with federalism, including efficiency, democratic participation, and liberty. Polyphony communicates the independence and autonomy of state and of federal authorities. It highlights the key features of federalism. The aural metaphor of polyphony is designed to capture that concept of complex concurrence. Polyphonic federalism guarantees the integrity of state institutions. It recognizes that safeguarding individual rights may well require affirmative governmental action. It is noted that the polyphonic approach understands federalism within the United States in the context of the global trends.

Keywords: federalism; polyphony; autonomy; federal authorities; state institutions; United States; federal power; state

Chapter.  11603 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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