The Modern Corporation and American Political Thought

Law, Power, and Ideology

By (author) Scott Bowman

Paperback - £33.95

Publication date:

15 September 1995

Length of book:

448 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271014739

Despite all that has been written about business and its role in American life, contemporary theories about the modern corporation as a social and political institution have failed to explain adequately the pervasiveness and complexity of corporate power in the twentieth century. Through an analysis of history, law, ideology, and economics that spans two centuries, Scott R. Bowman attempts to offer a complete interpretation of the way corporate power has achieved its dominant position in American society today.

In The Modern Corporation and American Political Thought, Bowman demonstrates how judge-made and statutory laws have structured and regulated the growth of corporate power while preserving corporate autonomy. The argument unfolds within a historical framework that reconstructs the evolution of the corporation with reference to its two dimensions of power: internal (within the enterprise) and external (in society at large). Bowman examines and revises Marxist, pluralist, and managerial theories to develop his own political theory about class conflict and corporate power and offers fresh interpretations of the political thought of Herbert Croly, Walter Weyl, Thorstein Veblen, Peter F. Drucker, Adolph A. Berle, and John Kenneth Galbraith. Ultimately, this book sets forth the first political theory that adequately accounts for the power of the modern corporation in all its dimensions.

“This is a valuable contribution to the understanding of the history of the corporation in the United States, and to the legal, political, and social questions bound up with that history. Bowman’s presentation of theoretical issues is lucid, and his own ideas are serious and important. Presenting a lucid grasp of the past, this book raises crucial questions about the present.”

—Paul Mattick, Jr., International Journal of Political Economy