“Attention, Shoppers! American Retail Capitalism and the Origins of the Amazon Economy,” with Kathleen Thelen, MIT

Event time: 
Monday, November 6, 2023 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Institution for Social and Policy Studies (PROS77 ), A002 See map
77 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 


Abstract: In this work, Kathleen Thelen traces the origins and evolution of American retail capitalism since the late 19th century, as large-scale retailers capitalized on the permissive regulatory landscape of the American political economy to outgrow the capacity of the government to regulate them. Thelen’s account focuses on features of the legal context, in particular a uniquely congenial competition regime, and on the impact of a fragmented regulatory landscape that invited regulatory arbitrage and outright rule-breaking. As they grew, America’s large retailers were able to assemble an ever-growing political support coalition that could be weaponized to head off the regulatory efforts they faced.

Kathleen Thelen is Ford Professor of Political Science at MIT. Her work focuses on the origins and evolution of political-economic institutions in the rich democracies. She is the author, among others, of Varieties of Liberalization and the New Politics of Social Solidarity (2014) and How Institutions Evolve (2004), and co-editor of The American Political Economy: Politics, Markets, and Power (with Jacob Hacker, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, and Paul Pierson, 2022). Her awards include the Aaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Prize (2019); the Michael Endres Research Prize (2019), the Barrington Moore Book Prize (2015), the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award of the APSR (2005), the Mattei Dogan Award for Comparative Research (2006), and the Max Planck Research Award (2003). Thelen has served as President of the American Political Science Association (APSA), Chair of the Council for European Studies, and as President of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015 and to the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences in 2009.

Sponsored by the Program on Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale University.