The U.S. New Deal raises issues of class, race, gender, region, social movements, and institutional constraint in the context of a societal-wide economic and political crisis, and has not surprisingly generated a considerable body of work by political sociologists over the past twenty years. In particular, the New Deal has served as a major empirical context for developing, testing, or applying broader theoretical models of political change in the United States. In this sense, it is a paradigmatic example of the “historical turn” in the social sciences. This paper examines the theoretical and empirical controversies that have persisted between four competing theoretical models of New Deal political change: () those emphasizing the importance of social movements from below in generating momentum for political reform, () those highlighting the centrality of business influence on successful New Deal reform initiatives, () feminist models, and () historical institutional models. I then turn to a survey of more recent work on some of the topics that have been the most widely debated in more recent scholarship and pose some questions for future research.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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