American Business and Political Power: Public Opinion, Elections, and Democracy

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University of Chicago Press, Oct 31, 2000 - Political Science - 245 pages
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Most people believe that large corporations wield enormous political power when they lobby for policies as a cohesive bloc. With this controversial book, Mark A. Smith sets conventional wisdom on its head. In a systematic analysis of postwar lawmaking, Smith reveals that business loses in legislative battles unless it has public backing. This surprising conclusion holds because the types of issues that lead businesses to band together—such as tax rates, air pollution, and product liability—also receive the most media attention. The ensuing debates give citizens the information they need to hold their representatives accountable and make elections a choice between contrasting policy programs.

Rather than succumbing to corporate America, Smith argues, representatives paradoxically become more responsive to their constituents when facing a united corporate front. Corporations gain the most influence over legislation when they work with organizations such as think tanks to shape Americans' beliefs about what government should and should not do.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Business Unity and Its Consequences for Representative Democracy
13
Identifying Business Unity
37
A Portrait of Unifying Issues
63
Public Opinion Elections and Lawmaking
89
Overt Sources of Business Power
115
Structural Sources of Business Power
143
The Role of Business in Shaping Public Opinion
167
The Compatibility of Business Unity and Popular Sovereignty
197
Additional Coding Rules Used to Uncover Positions of the US Chamber of Commerce
215
The Potential for Feedback between Policy and Opinion
217
REFERENCES
223
INDEX
237
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Page 226 - From management sciences to policy sciences;' in Michael J. White et al. (eds.), Management and Policy Science in American Government. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, pp. 269-295. Dryzek, John (1982). "Policy analysis as a hermeneutic activity;' Policy Sciences 14: 309-329. Dye, Thomas R. (1978). "Oligarchic tendencies in national policy-making: the role of private policyplanning organizations;' Journal of Politics 40: 309-333.

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About the author (2000)

Mark A. Smith is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Washington.

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