Teaching Marianne and Uncle Sam

Public Education, State Centralization, and Teacher Unionism in France and the United States

Nicholas Toloudis
Book Cover

HC: $66.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-0906-5
Publication: Aug 12

Ebook: $66.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-0908-9
Publication: Aug 12

230 pages
6 x 9
5 tables

A comparative study of the rise of teacher power and the state in twentieth-century France and the United States


Offering the first systematic, comparative examination of the origins of teachers' unions in two countries—France and the United States— Teaching Marianne and Uncle Sam shows how teachers' unions came into existence not because of the willful efforts of particular actors, but over the course of decades of conflict over the proper role of professional educators in public politics.

Nicholas Toloudis traces teacher unionism back to the first efforts of governments to centralize public education. He carefully documents how centralization created new understandings of the role of teachers in their societies and generated new sources of conflict within teachers' corps. Using rare archival source materials, Toloudis illustrates how these internal conflicts became salient in teachers' battles with governments over their legitimate right to exist as collective claim-makers within the polity.


"Teaching Marianne and Uncle Sam is a well-written, well-researched, and fascinating book that offers an original take on teacher mobilization in France and the United States. The book also compellingly deals with broader theoretical issues, such as the impact of political centralization on social mobilization and the role of selective engagement in labor politics. Teachers and union representatives will find this book informative, as will historians, sociologists, and political scientists interested in education policy and politics. Teaching Marianne and Uncle Sam makes a direct and welcome contribution to the fields of education and labor studies, as well as to comparative, historical, and political social science analysis."
Daniel Béland, Canada Research Chair in Public Policy at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (University of Saskatchewan campus)

"Toloudis deals with the origins of teachers unions in France and the US in the late-19th and early- and middle-20th centuries. The book has some valuable historical information about teachers unions and politics in the two nations, and utilizes some interesting archival material that should be of interest to historians of education generally and of teachers unions in particular.... Summing Up: Recommended."

"Nicholas Toloudis makes a compelling argument in this engaging book.... The ambition of Teaching Marianne and Uncle Sam is to bring two national cases together to unpack causal relations between the key variables of centralization, mobilization and selective engagement. Comparative studies of political development between the U.S. and other countries is rarer than it should be in political science, and Toloudis’s empirical study is welcome in this regard, especially given the intellectual weight of de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America , whose insights are echoed throughout the book. The richest payoff of the comparison is to show how political centralization intersects with the formation of collective political identities, and how timing can structure the kinds of mobilization and political strategies that collective actors employ.... (T)his book is a valuable contribution to comparative studies of political development, and its focus on a policy field that has been insufficiently researched in political science makes it worthwhile read."
Perspectives on Politics

Table of Contents


PART I The Puzzle of Turn-of-the-Century Teachers’ Politics
1 Teachers, Politics, and the State
2 Centralization, Mobilization, and Selective Engagement

PART II Centralizing Education and Mobilizing Teachers
3 Centralizing Public Education and Teachers’ Politics in Nineteenth-Century France
4 Centralization and Its Discontents among New York City Teachers

PART III The Politics of Selective Engagement
5 Selective Engagement and Teachers’ Politics in France, 1887–1950
6 Selective Engagement and Teachers’ Politics in New York City, 1920–1960

PART IV Conclusion
7 Marianne and Uncle Sam Revisited


About the Author(s)

Nicholas Toloudis is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at The College of New Jersey.

In the Series

  • Politics, History, and Social Change edited by John C. Torpey

    The Politics, History, and Social Change series, edited by John C. Torpey, disseminates serious works that analyze the social changes that have transformed our world during the twentieth century and beyond. The main topics addressed include international migration; human rights; the political uses of history; the past and future of the nation-state; decolonization and the legacy of imperialism; and global inequality. The series will also translate into English outstanding works by scholars writing in other languages.