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Bringing power back in: A review of the literature on the role of business in welfare state politics


  • Paster, Thomas


What is the impact of business interest groups on the formulation of public social policies? This paper reviews the literature in political science, history, and sociology on this question. It identifies two strands: one analyzes the political power and influence of business, the other the preferences and interests of business. Since the 1990s, researchers have shifted their attention from questions of power to questions of preferences. While this shift has produced important insights into the sources of the policy preferences of business, it came with a neglect of issues of power. This paper takes a first step towards re-integrating a power-analytical perspective into the study of the role of business in welfare state politics. It shows how a focus on variation in business power can help to explain both why business interest groups accepted social protection during some periods in the past and why they have become increasingly assertive and averse to social policies since the 1970s.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:153

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

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    1. Help or Hindrance? Business and Welfare Policy Formation
      by crowleymarkj in NEP-HIS blog on 2015-05-05 15:03:07

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