State, Capital, and the Corporation: Ideological and Social Transformations of the Last Half Century

AHA Session 314
Labor and Working Class History Association 5
Sunday, January 8, 2017: 11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Plaza Ballroom A (Sheraton Denver Downtown, Plaza Building Concourse Level)
Judith S. Stein, City College of New York

Session Abstract

Although a new generation of historians of capitalism have made much progress exploring the financialization of commercial and corporate activity, both as cultural ethos and economic reality, relatively little attention has been paid to the ways in which the changing structure and technology of the late 20th century business enterprise have served as a lever by which management and ownership have greatly enhanced both the profitability of the enterprise, the global scale of operations, and the freedom of the corporation from outside constraints, including the regulatory state and organized labor.  The four papers offered at this panel explore the changing character of key corporate enterprises and how this has created a new template for state, labor, and business relations, both domestic and international, during the last half-century. Nelson Lichtenstein explains how the business enterprise has been organizationally “fissured;” Jennifer Klein explores how companies have shaped spaces of economic and social waste; Margaret O’Mara discusses how parastatal spending and planning helped give rise to the libertarian- tinged ethos of Silicon Valley technology firms; and Nikolas Bowie examines the rise of that business libertarianism from a legal perspective.
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