US Political Economy Spring 2014
Final Assignment: D0 # 1 Choose two between 2, 3, 4 and 5. Paper should be at least five pages. Due May 7th.
I. Historical transformation in capitalism can be analyzed in terms of changes in the social structures of accumulation.
A. How does the notion of social structures of accumulation relate to the notion of long swings in economic activity? What makes it different than just business cycles?
B. It is said by some social analysts that the seeds of economic decline are planted in the period of rapid accumulation and growth. Explain how this statement relates to the notion of social structures of accumulation? Illustrate it with an example from Monopoly Period of U.S. capitalist development covered in class.
2. Railroads were the leading sector of the Competitive Capitalist period in the United States.
A. Why did the railroad network grow so rapidly after the Civil War? What are some of the factors?
B. What are some of the important contributions Railroad Corporations and the industry provide for the U.S. economic development?
C. How did the RR expansion contribute to the period of decline after 1870s?
3. “In Running Full: The Breakdown of Competition” the author makes the case that competition in both the steel and other sectors led to a consolidation process that by 1900 resulted in monopolistic capitalism.
A. Explain how the process of capitalist competition led to falling profits in industries like steel.
What made industries like steel particularly vulnerable?
B. How did industries come to deal with the problems of price competition discussed in part a ?
What were some of the benefits of consolidation?
4. While competition between capitalist asserted downward pressures on prices contributing to falling profits in the homogenization of labor article it is argued that the systems of labor control also needed to be addressed to increase profitability.
A. What is and how did the drive system alter the labor process and provide greater leverage for the employers over labor?
B. Briefly explain the corporate policies that were implemented to discourage the worker unity created by the implementation of the drive system.
C. How did these innovations provide another avenue for the capitalist to increase profitability?
5. Bluestone argues in the Great U‐Turn that the 1970s marked the end of the America Dream. Bluestone argues there was a U‐Turn in the American Dream over the past several decades. What evidence does he offer?
A. By 1970s capitalists were confronted with a falling rate of profit. What are the causes of the profit squeeze of the late 60s and 1970s according to Bluestone?
B. Bluestone and Harrison argue that there were several responses to the profit squeeze, briefly explain them and what role did the government play ?