Where Does the Corporation Fit in a Democracy?

[There is] a gross mismatch between the corporate world we inhabit and the liberal individualist frames we use to interpret and address this world. It is commonplace, for example, to describe the United States as modern, liberal, democratic, market oriented, and individualistic. Yet the corporations that are the setting of its workaday world and portions of its leisure world are of premodern provenance and, internally, are neither liberal, democratic, marketized, nor individualistic, but instead are hierarchical, semi-cooperative, and organized through authority relations. Painting the corporation as private and contractual—a voluntary association of shareholders—masks this contradiction.

That’s from “Beyond Public and Private: Toward a Political Theory of the Corporation,” by my colleague David Ciepley, in the new American Political Science Review. This is a particularly timely piece given the increased focus on corporate influence over government but the lack of a framework for understanding this influence.

[Cross-posted at Mischiefs of Faction]

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Seth Masket

Seth Masket is an associate professor of political science at the University of Denver.