Beyond Institutions-as-Structure: A Deeper Structural Perspective

  • William F. Grover
  • Joseph G. Peschek
Part of the The Evolving American Presidency Series book series (EAP)


Woodrow Wilson had it right, up to a point. There is a structure of power—“the very structure and operation of society itself”—that lies beneath the distribution of governmental powers. His 1912 observation points to a flaw in the conventional structure-as-institutions approach adopted by mainstream political science.1 That approach privileges the institutional balance of power among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, often ignoring (or accepting as a “given”) the deeper structure of power within which institutions operate. Then, as now, serious analysis of the presidency would benefit from examining and questioning that power structure underlying the operation of governmental institutions. Wilson’s presidential campaign rhetoric above introduced a critique of the rise of giant corporations within the American political economy, monopoly power that came under attack in the Progressive Era with often harsh indictment:

The masters of the government of the United States are the combined capitalists and manufacturers of the United States. It is written over every intimate page of the records of Congress, it is written all through the history of conferences at the White House, that the suggestions of economic policy in this country have come from one source, not from many sources. The benevolent guardians, the kindhearted trustees who have taken the troubles of government off our hands, have become so conspicuous that almost anybody can write out a list of them.2


Social Movement Transactional Leader Corporate Capital Governmental Power Business Confidence 
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Copyright information

© William F. Grover and Joseph G. Peschek 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • William F. Grover
  • Joseph G. Peschek

There are no affiliations available

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