Chapter

A Historical Puzzle

Peter A. Swenson

in Capitalists against Markets

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780195142976
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199872190 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195142977.003.0001
 A Historical Puzzle

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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

Chapter.  6650 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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