Regulating capitalism: The Taylor Society and political economy in the interwar period
Abstract (Summary)This dissertation studies the emergence of a Keynesian political-economic strategy in America during the interwar period. It is concerned primarily with one crucial aspect of this process: the ideological role played by key political, economic, and managerial elites in the emergence of such strategy. It thus traces the political discourse articulated by the Taylor Society, the institutional home of scientific management, from its inception as an industrial research organization to its development as an important policy-making network during the New Deal. It focuses on key figures in the Taylor Society including Morris L. Cooke, Harlow S. Person, Henry Dennison, and Mary Van Kleeck, as well as those who were closely associated with the society, such as Rexford G. Tugwell, Louis D. Brandies, George Soule, Frances Perkins, and Sidney Hillman. The historical narrative shows how during the 1930s the Taylor Society became an important component of the political and economic network that put forward a Keynesian strategy based on the expansion of mass consumption (and thus social purchasing power) via the intervention of the state. This network was critical of the corporatist program, embodied in the National Recovery Administration, in which that state would sanction cartel-like arrangements among capitalists to reduce destructive competition, restrict production, and fix prices. This system of industrial self-regulation entailed minimal state intervention and a reduced role for the unions and the collective bargaining. The Keynesian strategy advanced by the Taylor Society and its allies, on the other hand, advocated an expanded and strong role for the state and unions in the political economy, along with macroeconomic policies that promoted social purchasing power and expanded mass consumption. During the "Second New Deal" the Keynesian elite entered the corridors of power and many of its members took key administrative positions in the welfare state. From these positions they attempted to shape the American political economy.
School Location:USA - Massachusetts
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/1992