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Grant number: FT-60599-13

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David Paul Hochfelder
SUNY Research Foundation, Albany (Albany, NY 12222-0001)

A History of Thrift in America from Benjamin Franklin to the Great Recession

I seek an NEH Summer Stipend for research on the history of thrift in the U.S. The major concern driving this project is to understand an apparent contradiction in the history of American capitalism:as an economic system it distributes risk and reward unevenly, yet as a cultural formation it has enjoyed remarkably broad support. An important way to resolve this slippage is to examine how working-class Americans have saved their modest surpluses. Widespread (if unequal) participation in the gains of economic growth through saving and investing partly explains the durability of American capitalism. This apparent contradiction has also imbued thrift with a contested and shifting set of meanings: the purported connection between poverty and improvidence; the role of the state in promoting thrift; the accelerating shift from safe bank savings to risky stock investing; and the fraught relationship between home ownership, consumption, and economic growth.

Project fields:
U.S. History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2013 – 8/31/2013