The Modern Corporation and American Political Thought


This book deals with an important issue that merits careful study by any and all political philosophers, legal theorists and other sociologists. The topic is the namesake of the book and how law, power and ideological beliefs are shaped by profit-making organisations.

The emergence of several multinational companies is considered to be one of the most critical corporate transformations of the 20th century. It is this very same transition that this book addresses carefully and aims to make sense of it by introducing readers to a political theory of corporations. The subject of the book is not to be confused with corporations and how they work according to corporate laws. While it does incorporate elements of corporate law and how it functions, it does not wholly speak about laws and corporate governance.

The main theme of the book is to discuss how modern corporations and political thought intertwine and work together. Elements of this can be seen in corporate activities, which can go as long back as the mid/late 19th century. 

Corporate Power In America

Through a strict analysis of history, law and ideological beliefs Bowman attempts to give readers an interpretation of corporate power in America. In the US, Bowman tries to display how corporations have managed to achieve a dominant position, so much so that they have influenced societal norms and how corporations function in tandem to society and societal laws. 

Bowman manages to encapsulate this by giving a comprehensive historical framework of corporations with reference to dimensions of power within it. Chiefly two dimensions have been explored and they are: internal - power within the corporation, and external - in society at large. This analysis also includes examinations of Marxist, pluralist and managerial theories in the hopes of developing a new political thought relating to class confliction and corporate power (as mentioned above). At its base, this book serves to provide a political theory, the first of its kind, that incorporates a myriad of theories that accounts for the power which has gradually come into the grasp of corporations over the years. 

Historical Relevance

At this point, if anything, history has shown us the overarching effect corporations have had on society at large. The flood of capitalism that has embedded itself in society has slowly shown society the power and influence of monetary gain. Corporations have shown time and again that revenue-generation is the main motive, turning profits and how to strategize business models to make more profit and break-even is primarily the main concern of profit-making organizations. The book itself is a representation of corporations and how the profit-making motive is not the only aspect of corporations which has impacted society, albeit it has contributed in the creation of this new found corporate culture that has its reach in a plethora of facets of society. 

A Representation Of Corporations Through Corporate Law - The Opinion

Corporate law is tied with the idea of keeping national interest at heart when companies operate. If such laws did not restrict the actions of a company, then a variety of atrocities would occur, thus giving corporations even more power. Corporate structures abiding to corporate law makes it impossible for them to break ethical codes set by society, and that is one way these laws protect society and individuals from being taken advantage of by companies. In fact, by-laws and provisions that constitute the ‘paper government’ act as a buffer for companies from being taken advantage of by bigger MNCs. 

The Book’s Review 

This book itself is an adequate representation of the legal, political and social questions that must be put forth when analyzing the way corporations have so subtly embedded themselves into the very veins of politics and social variables which rule society.

Furthermore, the book is filled with excellent field research and footnotes leading to documents which accentuate the actual meaning of the thematics of the book - that the corporations existent today are not only following legal restrictions whilst fusing themselves with politics in society, but they are slowly taking over highly relevant aspects of society. This power that corporations have expanded themselves to ultimately gain all stems from a single notion - profitability. The more the author details the different ideological systems which surround the idea of a corporation, the clearer the picture gets regarding how corporations subtly function and guide our tastes and wants towards their products and services.

However, the only problems found within the book were the various editing problems which made certain sentences seem out of context. Additionally, the book is trying to cover so many theories in an effort to combine them into one lucid theory that at times the theory written by Scott may come off as contradictory.  


The crux of the matter that the book is trying to get to is that capitalism has led to the flourishing of a new age where companies dictate what goes in and out of an economy - thus making them one of the central figures in American society nowadays. However, constitutional amendments and legalese pertaining to company law and the laws one must abide by when selling final goods to a customer are not supposed to let companies monopolize a particular field to the degree where market conditions favour them especially more than other smaller companies. 

Looking at the business environment that has been shaped and blended into society in almost a non-noticeable way, one can assume that we live in a new age which is nothing more than merely a platform consisting of constant exchanges of products and money. If companies were to continue to do so, creating guidelines for individuals to rely on when it comes to what to buy and what not to buy, then monopolies and corporations would take over the world.