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The Vanishing Free Market: The Formation and Spread of the British and US Food Regimes

Authors

  • BILL WINDERS

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    1. School of History, Technology, & Society, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
      Bill Winders, School of History, Technology, & Society, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0345, USA. e-mail: bill.winders@gatech.edu
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  • I thank Rick Rubinson for his comments and enthusiasm for this paper. I am also grateful to Peggy Barlett, John Boli, Terry Boswell, Amy D'Unger and Regina Werum for their comments and support on this paper. Finally, I thank the two anonymous reviewers and the editors for their comments, suggestions and advice, which helped to improve this paper significantly. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Society in 2001, and the Annual Meeting of the Rural Sociological Society in 2008. Parts of this article are adapted from chapter 6 in my book, The Politics of Food Supply, copyright 2009, and used by permission of Yale University Press.

Bill Winders, School of History, Technology, & Society, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0345, USA. e-mail: bill.winders@gatech.edu

Abstract

In this paper, I compare the formation of food regimes during British and US hegemony, which were mirror-images in terms of the degree of free trade and state regulation as well as the direction of trade flow of grains. Many scholars recognize that the foundation for each regime was laid by the national policy and dominant political coalition in the world-economic hegemon, but my analysis pays particular attention to the divisions and coalitions within agriculture as forces that drove the shape of each regime. Though important agricultural divisions existed in each case, the political power of the resulting agricultural coalitions – and those coalitions' relations to the nation's dominant coalition – are central to understanding the formation and spread of each food regime.

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