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From Normalcy to New Deal: industrial structure, party competition, and American public policy in the Great Depression


  • Ferguson, Thomas


Industrial partisan preference may be formally modeled as the joint consequence of pressures from labor and the differential impact of the world economy on particular businesses. This “basic†and static model, when extended to cover the money market, can be used to examine questions of political development, including the effects of fluctuations in national income on political coalitions. American institutions and public policy during the New Deal are used to test the theory against empirical evidence, much of it from new primary sources. The rise of the New Deal coalition is traced to changes in the American industrial structure deriving from the boom of the 1920s and the reversal of the U.S. financial position that resulted from World War I, in addition to the well-known labor militancy of the 1930s. The effect of these changes was the rise of a (Democratic) political coalition dominated by capital-intensive, multinationally dominant firms and industries with a strong interest in free trade and a historically unprecedented ability to cope with major industrial upheavals without resort to force. The major public policy initiatives of the New Deal are reexamined from this standpoint.

Suggested Citation

  • Ferguson, Thomas, 1984. "From Normalcy to New Deal: industrial structure, party competition, and American public policy in the Great Depression," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(1), pages 41-94, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:38:y:1984:i:01:p:41-94_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Paster, Thomas, 2015. "Bringing power back in: A review of the literature on the role of business in welfare state politics," MPIfG Discussion Paper 15/3, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    2. Richard T. Cupitt & Euel Elliott, 1994. "Schattschneider Revisited: Senate Voting On The Smoot‐Hawley Tariff Act Of 1930," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 187-199, November.
    3. Suthan Krishnarajan, 2019. "Crisis? What crisis? Measuring economic crisis in political science," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 53(3), pages 1479-1493, May.

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