Corporations have emerged as the dominant governance institutions on the planet, with the largest among them reaching into virtually every country in the world and exceeding most governments in size and power. While corporations are characters in larger in stories of industrialization and capitalism, this seminar will emphasize the specific features of public corporations and their historical and contemporary relations to individuals, states, families, ethnic and racial groups, and other social actors.
- How did corporations emerge?
- How are they controlled and by whom?
- Under what circumstances do they exercise military force?
- How do we participate in them as consumers, employees, stockholders and what are the conflicts among these forms of participation?
- What rights and responsibilities do corporations have? How do we engage them as citizens?
We will examine these questions especially with reference to the greatest early joint stock corporation, the English East India Company, and today’s largest corporation, Wal-Mart.