The Unrecognized Social Revolution: The Rise of the New Business Elite in America

by R. Monsen



Some scholars feel that past studies of the U.S. business leaders were undertaken primarily to test the hypothesis that the American social structure has become more rigid over time. Indeed, the prevailing orthodoxy still seems to hold, to quote Christopher Jencks and David Riesman, that, the rate of social mobility does not seem to be changing much, if at all. A man's chances of occupying the same relative place in the totem pole that his father occupied have not changed significantly in the past forty years, and there is no good reason to suppose they changed much in earlier times. Certainly those with left wing ideological orientations have attempted to prove just that. Both C. Wright Mills and Gabriel Kolko claim that Amer- ica's social structure in the last century became increasingly rigid, blocked the rise from the lower classes, and that such blocked mobility continues. Their studies, however, miss the crucially significant contemporary period. Recent data appear to indicate that greater mobility exists today than ever before due largely to two basic factors, corporate mergers and the increasing availability of education. The merger waves of this century have largely written the history of the modern managerial corporation.

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