This article compares two recent analyses of continuity and change in the American power structure since 1900, with a main focus on the years after World War II. The first analysis asserts that the “corporate elite” has fractured and fragmented in recent decades and no longer has the unity to have a collective impact on public policy. The second analysis claims that corporate leaders remain united, albeit with moderate-conservative and ultra-conservative differences on several issues, and continue to have a dominant collective impact on public policies that involve their major goals. After comparing the two perspectives on key issues from 1900 to 1945, the article analyzes the fractured-elite theory’s three claims about the postwar era: an activist government constrained the corporate elite, the union movement negotiated a capital-labor accord; and bank boards created policy cohesion among corporations. Finally, it compares the two perspectives on tax issues, health-care policies, and trade expansion between 1990 and 2010.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

FI16092135_DOI_references.docx (36 kB)
Supplemental Reference List with DOIs