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Capitalists against MarketsThe Making of Labor Markets and Welfare States in the United States and Sweden$
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Peter A. Swenson

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195142976

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195142977.001.0001

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A Historical Puzzle

A Historical Puzzle

(p.3) 1 A Historical Puzzle
Capitalists against Markets

Peter A. Swenson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Poses a historical puzzle about the timing of welfare state development in the U.S. and Sweden. The “big bang” in progressive social and labor policy occurred earlier in the U. S., during the Great Depression, although the left and labor seemed markedly weaker than in Sweden, where social democracy made its remarkable legislative strides only later in the 1940s and 1950s. This historical puzzle indicates that conventional theory about the welfare state, drawing on comparative analysis of class power and institutions, needs to be challenged because it wrongly presumes capitalist interests against the welfare state that are unchanging over time and invariant across countries.

Keywords:   history, institutions, power, Sweden, theory, United States, welfare states

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