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Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Campus Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Economics

First Advisor

Robert N. Pollin

Second Advisor

Michael A. Ash

Third Advisor

Eve S. Weinbaum

Subject Categories

Economic History | Economics

Abstract

This dissertation focuses on class in two senses of the term.

First, it analyzes the conditions under which members of an economic class, a group defined by some common economic interest or position, may develop a collective identity, a consciousness of their common interests, and a capacity for collective action in furtherance of these interests. In particular, it is a case study of the U.S. capitalist class, especially the very largest non-financial companies (and their executives and directors), and its political mobilization in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This aspect of the dissertation focuses on the formation of the Business Roundtable, the decisions of the largest U.S. industrial companies to join the Roundtable and its predecessor organizations, and the Roundtable's approach to recruiting new members.

Second, the dissertation concerns class as a particular kind of social process, the division of the social product between workers and employers. In particular, it analyzes trends in the labor and capital shares of U.S. national income during the postwar period and especially during the 1960s business-cycle expansion. It explores the role of fluctuations of unemployment in the changing balance of power between labor and capital and in turn on their income shares, and the role of these changes in galvanizing the U.S. capitalist elite into concerted political action.

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