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Pocketbook Politics: Economic Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America

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In this groundbreaking study, Meg Jacobs demonstrates how pocketbook politics provided the engine for American political conflict throughout the last century. Beginning with the explosion of prices at the turn of the century, every strike, demonstration, and boycott was, in effect, a protest against rising prices and inadequate income. On one side, a reform coalition of ordinary Americans, mass retailers, and national politicians fought for laws and policies that promoted militant unionism, government price ...
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Overview

In this groundbreaking study, Meg Jacobs demonstrates how pocketbook politics provided the engine for American political conflict throughout the last century. Beginning with the explosion of prices at the turn of the century, every strike, demonstration, and boycott was, in effect, a protest against rising prices and inadequate income. On one side, a reform coalition of ordinary Americans, mass retailers, and national politicians fought for laws and policies that promoted militant unionism, government price controls, and a Keynesian program of full employment. On the other, small businessmen fiercely resisted this low-price, high-wage agenda, which threatened to bankrupt them.

Pocketbook Politics offers a new interpretation of state power by integrating popular politics and elite policymaking. Jacobs breaks new methodological ground by insisting on the centrality of national politics and the state in the nearly century-longfight to fulfill the American dream of abundance.

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Editorial Reviews

EH.NET
It is a tribute to this first-rate study that it opens up . . . fundamental issues in exciting new ways. Every serious student of modern U.S. political history and political economy will profit from reading Jacobs's path-breaking scholarship.
Reviews in American History - Jennifer Mittelstadt
Meg Jacobs strides boldly through the shards of the old, broken narrative and, with her eye on previously overlooked actors and events, constructs a new story of the rise and fall of the New Deal order. This extraordinary work offers a fresh narrative about American liberalism. . . . [O]ne of the most important pieces of political history this decade.
The Journal of American History - Liette Gidlow
Meg Jacobs offers a fresh and persuasive interpretation of major policy developments in the early twentieth century. Pocketbook Politic is a key addition to the growing literature in which the study of consumption promotes synthesis in historical scholarship.
Business History Review - Gary Cross
This unapologetic political history [is] refreshingly direct, revealing, and persuasive. It should become a standard text for students of the period.
" EH.NET ert Collins

It is a tribute to this first-rate study that it opens up . . . fundamental issues in exciting new ways. Every serious student of modern U.S. political history and political economy will profit from reading Jacobs's path-breaking scholarship.
From the Publisher

Winner of the 2006 Ellis W. Hawley Prize, Organization of American Historians

Winner of the 2006 New England Historical Association Book Prize, New England Historical Association

"Meg Jacobs strides boldly through the shards of the old, broken narrative and, with her eye on previously overlooked actors and events, constructs a new story of the rise and fall of the New Deal order. This extraordinary work offers a fresh narrative about American liberalism. . . . [O]ne of the most important pieces of political history this decade."--Jennifer Mittelstadt, Reviews in American History

"Meg Jacobs offers a fresh and persuasive interpretation of major policy developments in the early twentieth century. Pocketbook Politic is a key addition to the growing literature in which the study of consumption promotes synthesis in historical scholarship."--Liette Gidlow, The Journal of American History

"It is a tribute to this first-rate study that it opens up . . . fundamental issues in exciting new ways. Every serious student of modern U.S. political history and political economy will profit from reading Jacobs's path-breaking scholarship."--Robert Collins, EH.NET

"This unapologetic political history [is] refreshingly direct, revealing, and persuasive. It should become a standard text for students of the period."--Gary Cross, Business History Review

Reviews in American History
Meg Jacobs strides boldly through the shards of the old, broken narrative and, with her eye on previously overlooked actors and events, constructs a new story of the rise and fall of the New Deal order. This extraordinary work offers a fresh narrative about American liberalism. . . . [O]ne of the most important pieces of political history this decade.
— Jennifer Mittelstadt
Business History Review
This unapologetic political history [is] refreshingly direct, revealing, and persuasive. It should become a standard text for students of the period.
— Gary Cross
The Journal of American History
Meg Jacobs offers a fresh and persuasive interpretation of major policy developments in the early twentieth century. Pocketbook Politic is a key addition to the growing literature in which the study of consumption promotes synthesis in historical scholarship.
— Liette Gidlow
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Meg Jacobs is Associate Professor of American History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, She is the co-editor of "The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History" (Princeton).

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Table of Contents

Introduction: economic citizenship in the twentieth century 1
Pt. I The high cost of living and the rise of pocketbook politics, 1900-1930
Ch. 1 From the bargain basement to the bargaining table, 1900-1917 15
Ch. 2 Business without a buyer, 1917-1930 53
Pt. II Purchasing power to the people, 1930-1940
Ch. 3 The new deal and the problem of prices, 1930-1935 95
Ch. 4 The new deal and the problem of wages, 1935-1940 136
Pt. III The evils of inflation in war and peace, 1940-1960
Ch. 5 The consumer goes to war, 1940-1946 179
Ch. 6 Pocketbook politics in an age of inflation, 1946-1960 221
Epilogue : back to bargain hunting 262
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