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Capitalism in Contention
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  • Page extent: 266 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.4 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 338.941/009/045
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: HC256.5 .B58 1997
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Great Britain--Economic policy--1945-1964
    • Great Britain--Economic policy--1964-1979
    • Great Britain--Economic policy--1979-1997
    • Great Britain--Economic conditions--20th century
    • Great Britain--Social policy

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521588041 | ISBN-10: 0521588049)

DOI: 10.2277/0521588049

  • Also available in Hardback
  • Published November 1997

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

 (Stock level updated: 17:01 GMT, 01 December 2015)


Capitalism in Contention examines the ideas of British business leaders on political, economic and social issues since 1960. Using unexplored records, interviews and both narrative and conceptual approaches, it sheds light on the Wilson, Heath and Thatcher periods from business points of view, on the 'mixed economy' and the 'New Right', the peak business bodies (CBI, BIM, IOD etc), and business-government relationships. Although the business ideas were often muffled or secreted, they made distinctive contributions to both public policy and thinking about 'capitalism'. The authors highlight three main ideological tendencies of elite business opinion, 'revisionism', 'liberationism' and reconstructionism'. These saw business respectively as adaptive partner in a pluralist system, pivot and liberator, and focus of social reconstruction, and their struggle for influence forms a central theme. This 1997 book will be of absorbing interest to students of politics, modern history and business, and to policy makers as well as concerned citizens.

• In-depth study of the political and social ideas of business leaders in modern Britain, and their influence on and reaction to government policy • Contains a mass of information from CBI, Institute of Directors, political party records, and interviews with leading business people • The first concentrated study on this subject in Britain


1. Business social ideas in the making; 2. An adapted, moderated capitalism: the anatomy of revisionism; 3. Cooperation or conflict? Business and the Labour government, 1964–70; 4. Liberationist capitalism in the wilderness, 1960–75; 5. The peaks and precipices of revisionism, 1969–74; 6. Sytemic change in capitalism? The reconstructionists; 7. Turmoil, realignment and recovery: British business 1974–9; 8. Business and early Thatcherism; 9. New orthodoxy? Muffled dissent?; 10. The significance of business ideology.


'What a relief to have this book. I found its original and vivid presentation of the ideas of business timely, scholarly and stimulating. We need to have the issues Boswell and Peters bring back into focus debated again and again. How do we reconcile capitalism and democracy? What is the role of Business trying to behave as Citizen in a globalising society? Other cultures and other democracies will be struggling with these ideas of capitalism in contention.' Sir Peter Parker

'An objective and penetrating insight into the contribution made by British business leaders to social, political and business thinking in the second half of the twentieth century.' Sir Michael Edwardes

'This book provides an innovative combination of archival research and theoretical analysis on the thinking of British business elites in the post-war years. It gives us a much greater understanding of the dynamics of these elites, and how their attitudes to economic and social life related to broader changes in the role of business in Britain. It has no serious rival in its field.' Jim Tomlinson, Brunel University

'… a very detailed research study undertaken in scholarly depth … This book gives much food for thought. it is a highly original analysis of a much-overworked theme. Because of its new and detailed historical research content, and because of its overarching thrust of assessment, it has become a highly valued source for the analysis of business interests in the post-war period.' Review of Social Economy

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