Trust and Power: Consumers, the Modern Corporation, and the Making of the United States Automobile Market

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Trust and Power argues that corporations have faced conflicts with the very consumers whose loyalty they sought. The book provides novel insights into the dialogue between modern corporations and consumers by examining automobiles during the 20th century. In the new market at the turn of the century, automakers produced defective cars, and consumers faced risks of physical injuries as well as financial losses. By the 1920s automobiles were sold in a mass market where state agencies intervened to monitor, however imperfectly, product quality and fair pricing mechanisms. After 1945, the market matured as most U.S. families came to rely on auto transport. Automakers sold a product suited to the unequal distribution of income. Again, the state intervened to regulate relations between buyers and sellers in terms of who had access to credit, and thus the ability to purchase expensive durables like automobiles.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...anyone interested in the early years of the automobile industry or creative scholarship in business history will profit from reading this book." -Mark R. Wilson, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"...a valuable tool for those interested in the inner workings of the development of the automobile market." —Louis Rodriquez, Kutztown University: Canadian Journal of History

"This book will stand as a memorial to the times when the highway still beckoned." -Avner Offer, EH.NET

"...a fresh, multidisciplinary assessment of the rise of the American automobile industry." -Karen Linkletter, Michigan Historical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521868785
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/12/2007
  • Pages: 314
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Sally H. Clarke, Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin, specializes in the political economy of the United States during the 20th century. Her interdisciplinary interests are reflected in articles in the Journal of Design History, Law and History Review, and Business History. She has been a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Harvard University) and the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies (Princeton University). She is the author of Regulation and the Revolution in United States Farm Productivity.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. A New Market, 1896-1916: 1. Risks of innovation, risks of injury; 2. New firms and the problem of social costs; Part II. A Mass Market, 1916-1941: 3. Corporate strategies and consumers' loyalty; 4. Engineering a mass product; 5. A machine age aesthetic; 6. The franchised car dealer and consumers' marketing dilemma; Part III. A Mature Market, 1945-1965: 7. Automobiles and institutional change; Conclusion; Appendix: Automobile dealer agreements and sales manager contracts, 1900-1914; Index.

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