FROM CORPORATE LIBERALISM TO NEOLIBERALISM: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN THINK TANKS
The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit public policy organizations constituted by section 501c3 of the U.S. Tax Code (think tanks, TTs or tanks) monitor and adjust governance norms and networks by using research, analysis, and advocacy to structure discourse about social problems and solutions among multiple elites and in the popular imagination. Through conversation, public communication, participation in government commissions and committees, and other methods, tanks strive to keep certain ideas alive (or at bay) until a particular policy idea becomes politically feasible and persuasive. Thirty-four case studies illustrate TT roles in constructing two basic policy regimes in 20th century America, corporate liberalism and neoliberalism. The two policy regimes are contingent discursive achievements, reflected in the adaptations in the modalities and rhetoric of think tanks in relation to dynamic processes of capitalist development, crisis, realignment, and consolidation. The cases show that while TTs generally function to contain and co-opt radical political economic ideas and social impulses, they are are not able to stitch interests seamlessly into state policy. Rather, social and economic crises, the changing demands and forms of the economy and the state, the actions of other actors, and other forces function to constrain the appeal of a given discourse or institution, so much so that individual tanks can drift from one ideological pole to another over time in reaction to these forces. These forces can also enable think tanks to exert discourse as an autonomous power that transcends the material constraints of the organizations themselves.
Advisor:Paul Bove; Carol Stabile; John Lyne; Jonathan Arac
School:University of Pittsburgh
School Location:USA - Pennsylvania
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:communication rhetoric and
Date of Publication:10/19/2007