This book offers a critical history of government policy toward the US automobile industry in order to assess the impact of the large corporation on American democracy. It offers the first book-length treatment of the power of the nation's largest industry. Drawing together the main policy issues affecting the automobile industry over the past forty years - occupant safety, emissions, fuel economy and trade - the work examines how the industry established its hegemony over the public perception of vehicle safety to inhibit federal regulation and the battle for federal regulation which succeeded in toppling this hegemony in 1966; the subsequent efforts to include pollution emissions and fuel economy under federal mandates in the 1970s; the industry's resurgence of influence in the 1980s; and the mixed pattern of influence in the 1990s. The analysis seeks to uncover factors that enhance corporate political influence, and those that constrain corporate power, allowing for public interest forces to be successful.
• Most up-to-date study of the auto industry and its interactions with lawmakers and consumers • Controversial thesis: auto industry has historically all along not been open about autos' negative effects • Will be avidly read by progressive audiences in political science, sociology, American history, and economics of industry
Acknowledgments; Introduction; 1. Studying power in America; 2. The structure of the auto industry; 3. Corporate political hegemony and its decline: 1916–66; 4. The politics of compromise: 1967–78; 5. The resurgence of corporate power: 1979–81; 6. The triumph of corporate power: regulatory policy, 1981–8; 7. The triumph of corporate power: trade policy, 1981–5; 8. Interregnum: 1989–96; Conclusion: corporate power and American democracy; Index.