Academic journal article The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology

The Microfoundations of Corporatist Intervention: Dairying's Collective Action Problems in Canada and England during the 1930s Depression [*]

Academic journal article The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology

The Microfoundations of Corporatist Intervention: Dairying's Collective Action Problems in Canada and England during the 1930s Depression [*]

Article excerpt

Dans cet article, nous demontrons l'utilite d'une approche microfondamentale dans la comprehension de phenomenes sociaux de plus grande ampleur. Grace a l'analyse des questions de recours collectifs, qui se sont posees aux differents acteurs, au Canada et en Angleterre, nous etablissons un lien informel entre la macrovariable de "structure de l'industrie [much greater than] et les formes divergentes de reglementation corporatiste instaurees dans les annees 1930. Apres avoir explique les caracteristiques centrales de l'approche microfondamentale et souligne les aspects importants de la theorie des jeux et du concept de choix rationnel, nous examinons les temoignages elabores, presentes dans le cadre de commissions et de comites du gouvernement. Ces donnees comparatives et historiques fournissent les bases qui permettent de comprendre la maniere dont les differentes structures de l'industrie ont cause des problemes de reglementation uniques pour les gouvernements canadien et britannique.

This paper argues for the utility of a microfoundational approach to understanding larger social phenomena. Through an analysis of the collective action problems experienced by the various actors in both Canada and England, I wish to establish a causal link between the macro-level variable "industry structure" and the divergent forms of corporatist regulation instituted in the 1930s. After clarifying the central features of my microfoundational approach and highlighting important aspects of game theory and rational choice explanations, I review the extensive sets of testimonies given before governmental commissions and committees. These comparative and historical data provide the foundations for understanding how distinct industry structures produced unique sets of regulatory problems for the Canadian and British governments.

BY THE EARLY 1930s, the dairy industries of both Canada and England were in crisis. Falling world prices for butter and cheese, as well as intractable overproduction problems within the fluid sector, generated tremendous collective action problems. In both cases, as with their counterparts around the world, [1] producers and distributors engaged in suicidal price competition. These problems of market instability compelled the Canadian, provincial and English governments to organize the conflicting interest groups and integrate these parties into the policy-making process--an essential prerequisite for corporatism. [2] Despite this structural similarity, the historical record demonstrates variable institutional responses to the same economic crisis. While Canada's initial response was modest and operated at the provincial and local levels (McCormick, 1968), England established encompassing institutions that participated in the formation and implementation of agricultural policy (Grant, 1985). These empirical d ifferences are captured by Lehmbruch's (1984) distinction between sectoral corporatism and corporatist concertation. Under sectoral corporatism, the state, such as Ontario's provincial government, organizes conflicting interests within the dairy sector of the economy for the purpose of economic governance. In contrast, under corporatist concertation, as seen in the English case, the government seeks policies that address problems beyond the narrowly defined goals of the sector and that are intended to facilitate the formulation and implementation of broader public policy.

How do we explain the emergence of these different institutional forms? This paper seeks to present a microfoundational analysis of why Canada established sectoral corporatism and England implemented economic governance resembling corporatist concertation. By microfoundations, I refer to the modest claim of specifying a complementary account of the individual decision making involved in larger macrosociological phenomena. In other words, I am not arguing that macro-level variables such as industry structure should be reduced to individual microprocesses. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.