Southern Paternalism and the American Welfare State: Economics, Politics, and Institutions in the South, 1865-1965

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Using the new institutional economics, Professors Alston and Ferrie show how paternalism in Southern agriculture helped shape the growth of the American welfare state in the hundred years following the Civil War. Paternalism was an integral part of agricultural contracts prior to mechanization. It involved the exchange of "good and faithful" labor services for a variety of in-kind services, most notably protection from physical violence. The Southern landed elite valued paternalism because it reduced monitoring costs and turnover. Workers valued paternalism because they lacked civil rights. In order to maintain the value of paternalism to their workers, the agricultural interests needed to prevent meddling from the federal government, which they accomplished through their disproportionate political power. Only the advent of mechanization and complementary technology in the late 1950s and early 1960s finally reduced the desire of Southern agricultural interests to fight the expansion of federal welfare programs.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...the book is a success." Douglas W. Allen,

"This book is important reading for those interested in political economic, historical, and instituitional analysis that makes clear and provocative arguments about the evolution of the Southern economy and the federal welfare state. Furthermore, the authors always attempt to reconcile their ideas with the available empirical facts, and the resulting interplay of theory and historical experience is enlightening." William J. Collins, Southern Economic Journal

"Students of the modern South will find valuable insights in this example of the 'new institutional economics' and also appreciate that the book is gracefully written with very little reliance on jargon." Roger Biles, The Journal of American History

"Alston and Ferrie offer an intriguing example of why it is important on occasion to step back and take a look at the big picture." Daniel Clark, Labor History

"This is a solid and valuable study. This book represents an important contribution to the study of labor relations and economic change in the American South. The authors argue persuasively that southern planter resistance to federal welfare policies involved much more than a devotion to cheap labor and a fear of outside interference." Enterprise & Society

"The author's arguments are persuasive and do much to document adequately what conventional wisdom has long known: The Southern elite used its political and economic power to maintain a dependent labor force and espolited racial violence by lower-class whites to impel paternalism among black workers. Historians will not question the use of sociology and political science to augment the literatures in economics and history for this study." Agricultural History

"In this important book, Lee Alston and Joseph Ferrie not only address the complexity of southern paternalism, but also carry forward the task suggested by their title--explaining how southern political interests affected the timing and expansion of the "welfare state" legislative program in the U.S...The main argument of the book is skillfully presented and convincing...The book performs several valuable services for the economic historian." EH.NET, Craig Heinicke, Baldwin-Wallace College

"This book represents an important contribution to the study of labor relations and economic change in the American South." Enterprise & Society

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Economics of Paternalism 13
2 The Politics of Maintaining Paternalism 34
3 Southern Opposition to the Social Security Act 49
4 Southern Opposition to the Farm Security Administration 75
5 The Bracero Program and Wartime Farm Labor Legislation 99
6 Mechanization and the Disappearance of Paternalism 119
Conclusion 143
References 153
Index 165
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