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The Political Construction of Business Interests
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Book description

Many societies use labor market coordination to maximize economic growth and equality, yet employers' willing cooperation with government and labor is something of a mystery. The Political Construction of Business Interests recounts employers' struggles to define their collective social identities at turning points in capitalist development. Employers are most likely to support social investments in countries with strong peak business associations, that help members form collective preferences and realize policy goals in labor market negotiations. Politicians, with incentives shaped by governmental structures, took the initiative in association-building and those that created the strongest associations were motivated to evade labor radicalism and to preempt parliamentary democratization. Sweeping in its historical and cross-national reach, the book builds on original archival data, interviews and cross-national quantitative analyses. The research has important implications for the construction of business as a social class and powerful ramifications for equality, welfare state restructuring and social solidarity.

Reviews

‘Why do employers cooperate with the state in some nations, but elsewhere resist its incursions? How do employers become not just economic, but political actors? Such are the questions grappled with in this methodologically sophisticated, massively documented study that impressively covers both sides of the Atlantic from the nineteenth century to the present.’

Peter Baldwin - University of California, Los Angeles

‘Why do the wealthy countries with the strongest business communities have the most generous social welfare systems and the least inequality? Using rich historical analysis coupled with sophisticated statistical studies, Martin and Swank offer a fresh and compelling answer. They show that business interests are shaped by the structure of democratic governance. This marvelous book challenges our most fundamental ideas about where group interests come from, and it has important, and unsettling, implications for the future of equality and democracy.’

Frank Dobbin - Harvard University

'The Political Construction of Business Interests is an impressive book that takes on multiple issues and, in order to address them, mobilizes statistical estimations, case studies grounded in archival research, and interview data. Whatever controversies it ignites, however, this book is a major achievement. Vastly illuminating about the origins of business associations, it shows that those associations are important to a wide range of social outcomes about which we should all care.'

Peter A. Hall - Harvard University

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