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Partisans and PartnersThe Politics of the Post-Keynesian Society$
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Josh Pacewicz

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226402550

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226402727.001.0001

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The Old Families

The Old Families

(p.31) One The Old Families
Partisans and Partners

Josh Pacewicz

University of Chicago Press

This chapter shows how pre-1980s federal policies allowed local business owning families, or “the old families,” to maintain their position of public prominence in Prairieville. Using archival records and oral histories, the chapter shows that the old families were central to a social system similar to Marcel Mauss’s account of a total gift exchange: they accumulated resources and rose in prominence by giving gifts, either to concrete individuals or an abstract public of business-minded citizens. Keynesian-era policies encourages this local system by preventing corporate mergers, allowing a sector of locally-owned firms to emerge in places like Prairieville. Federal bureaucrats also operated a banker government, which transferred social service and urban development funding to local bodies, thus allowing community leaders to put their plans into action by establishing control over these bodies. Employing a social network analysis of membership in 1970s-era community organizations, the chapter shows that, consequently, the same group of local business owners was central in local economic life, civic associations catering to the tastes of the well-to-do, local political bodies, and the Republic party.

Keywords:   community elites, urban economies, Marcel Mauss, gift exchange, corporate mergers, social network analysis

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