The University of Wisconsin Press

Political Science / Economics & Business / Sociology


State and Party in America's New Deal
Kenneth Finegold and Theda Skocpol

Providing a needed historical perspective on current debates about industrial and agricultural policy, Kenneth Finegold and Theda Skocpol compare the origins, implementation, and consequences of two similar programs from Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, each of which committed the federal government to extensive intervention in sectors of the U.S. economy. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) and its industrial counterpart, the National Recovery Administration (NRA), had very different fates. The politically and economically successful AAA set trends in American farm policy that continue to the present. The NRA was rejected as an abysmal failure. Why such drastically different outcomes?

A historical and institutional approach, Finegold and Skocpol contend, can explain the similarities and differences of the NRA and AAA better than competing approaches of pluralism, elite theory, Marxism, or rational choice. They show that the AAA aided large commercial farmers and increased their power over tenants, sharecroppers, and farm workers. The NRA, however, worked against the interests of its original business supporters and encouraged union organization among their workers. Finegold and Skocpol explain the contrasts in these programs by showing differences in the organization of governmental intervention in agriculture and in industry before the New Deal, and by tracking the differing ways capitalists, farmers, and workers participated in the New Deal political coalition.

Both Finegold and Skocpol have been prominent in bringing renewed attention to national political institutions. Their crisp analysis of state and party dynamics contributes to theories of politics in advanced industrial societies and will appeal to political scientists, policy makers, sociologists, historians, and economists—in short, all those who must understand how past programs influence present U.S. policies.

Kenneth Finegold
is associate professor of government at Eastern Washington University and the author of Experts and Politicians: Reform Opposition to Machine Politics in New York, Cleveland, and Chicago. Theda Skocpol is professor of political science and sociology at Harvard University and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her books, including States and Social Revolutions, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers, and Social Policy in the United States, have been honored with many awards.

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September 1995

LC: 95-005709 JK
338 pp. 6 x 9
9 figures

The 1995 cloth edition of this book is out of print, but the paperback is still available.

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Paper $19.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-14764-8
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