David Coates

Worrell Professor

Office: Kirby 301
Phone: 758-3544
Email: coatesd@wfu.edu

Website: www.davidcoates.net




David Coates holds the Worrell Chair in Anglo-American Studies. Born in the United Kingdom and educated at the universities of York and Oxford, he came to Wake Forest University in 1999, having previously held personal chairs at the universities of Leeds (in contemporary political economy) and Manchester (in labor studies). He has written extensively on UK labor politics, contemporary political economy and US public policy. For further details,  www.davidcoates.net.


B.A.                  1967, University of York, United Kingdom
D.Phil. (Oxon)    1979, University of Oxford

Academic Appointments

1970-71     Lecturer in Politics, University of York
1977-95     Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and then Professor of Contemporary Political Economy, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
1995-99     Professor of Government and Director of the International Center for Labor studies, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
1999-        Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies, Wake Forest University



Senior Seminar:   The Rise and Fall of Empires

This course explores the modern American condition by situating it in the context of Empire. It examines the general literature on the rise and fall of empires, and asks whether the United States is, or has been, in any sense an imperial power. We go back to classical Rome, and examine the rise and fall of its empire. We look at the nature of empires in the early modern period – focusing particularly on the case of Spain – and then examine in detail at the nature and fate of the main modern European empires: the British and the Russian. In each case we probe for the drivers of expansion, the causes of dominance, and the internal and external sources of decline. Finally the course turns to contemporary America. It examines the global role of the United States in the light of all we have discovered, and asks whether any of the internal or external drivers of earlier imperial systems have any relevance to the modern American condition.

Pol 234  United Kingdom  Politics in a Global Age

An introduction to UK politics and society, concentrating on dominant political projects in the post-war period (the post-war consensus, Thatcherism and New Labor), on the political impact of class, gender and ethnicity, on the politics of Northern Ireland, and on the UK’s changing relationship to the European Union. This course has two central objectives. Its prime objective is to introduce students to the nature of contemporary UK politics. Its secondary objective is to equip them with the means of explaining that politics by setting it in its context. Only rarely will the course focus on the machinery of government in the UK. More normally it will concentrate on how those in charge of government in the UK generate policy, respond to external pressures, and influence the wider society.

Pol 237  The Comparative Politics of Welfare States

This course examines the various ways in which governments in the US and Western Europe respond to a number of shared policy concerns – concerns that can be collectively labeled as “welfare issues”. Defense and foreign policy issues will not surface here. Nor will policy primarily directed towards the generation of economic growth. Instead the course will explore at how governments intervene (or do not intervene) to protect (both now and in the future) the young and the old, the sick and the unemployed, those working here and those wishing to. This is a course concerned with outcomes rather more than with processes. It will look at the content of the policy that governments make rather more than at the mechanisms by which they make it; focusing in particular on the detail of pension policy here and abroad, health policy, anti-poverty programs, work-life balance issues and immigration reform. It will explore the origins of such policies and their history; and it will examine their present condition and their likely trajectory.

Pol 239 State, Economy and International Competitiveness

The course has been designed to introduce students to a range of important case studies of national economic performance, and to do so in such a manner as to illustrate the role of public policy in economic performance. By its close, students should be familiar with the debates surrounding economic competitiveness in a number of significant industrial economies (the US, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Japan, South Korea and China); they should be in a position to judge the adequacy and consequences of current debates on appropriate economic policy; and they should understand the extent to which different capitalist models are still viable in an increasingly integrated global economy. The course will explore the strengths and weaknesses of leading examples of welfare capitalism, liberal capitalism, and capitalisms in which the state plays an active developmental role. It has as its sub-text a concern with the viability of welfare capitalism in a world in which (in many of the key policy-making arenas) there is now a growing penchant forliberal capitalist solutions to contemporary problems of economic growth, international competitiveness and unemployment. In exploring that sub-text, the course should also leave students fully briefed on major developments in the post-war history of the global economy and on the major theoretical traditions available to explain that history.

Pol 290  Senior Seminar: the origin and character of contemporary labor movements

This senior seminar explores the responses made by major labor movements in the northern hemisphere to the arrival and development of industrial capitalism from the middle of the nineteenth century. This offers an opportunity to deepen political science by the addition of systematic labor history, and to widen our conventional frameworks of analysis by focusing on the theory and practice of a complex social category – the industrial working class – whose experience, institutions and politics are characteristically either absent or marginal to the concerns of mainstream political science. The course examines the “take off” of labor movements in a number of key economies in Europe and North America. It explores the clash of political alternatives canvassed within those labor movements in their early years, and sees how and why – in different labor movements at different moments – one or another of those alternatives established a position of dominance. Since many of those political alternatives saw themselves as socialist in some form, the course is particularly exercised by the nature of left-wing politics in these early proletariats, asking why reformist political formations prevailed in some labor movements, why revolutionary parties prevailed in others, and why non-socialist forms of politics eventually won out in the United States.  It will first look at Europe, then at the US, then Europe (and indeed the globe) one final time – taking as its central focus the claims about American exceptionalism – seeing if those claims had any validity in the nineteenth century, and whether they have any validity today. The course will begin by asking ‘what form did working class politics initially take?’ and it will end by asking ‘is the age of working class politics now over?’

Comparative Government and Politics

The course has been designed as an introduction to the political functioning and social underpinning of major democratic political systems. The intention is to leave students better equipped to understand how democratic politics operate in political systems with a long tradition of democratic practices and in political systems in which democracy is relatively new. The course has also been designed to introduce them to the wider comparative discussion of why democracy flourishes in certain parts of the world system and not in others, and to draw their attention to the social, economic and cultural conditions underpinning successful and stable democratic politics.

Debating Capitalism

People have been debating capitalism ever since it arrived. Indeed there is an important sense in which disagreements on the character and consequences of capitalist ways of organizing economic life actually triggered the nineteenth century emergence of social science as we now know it. Such disagreements certainly stood at the heart of the twentieth century political debate on how best to organize advanced industrial societies; and they remain key elements dividing modern electorates in advanced capitalist societies, in former communist societies, and across the under-developed world. To have students debate capitalism is therefore an important way of introducing them to major debates in social science, to major developments in twentieth century history, and to the substance of major disagreements in contemporary political life. The course moves systematically through a number of these debates. It looks first at the debate on how best to both define and theorize capitalism, both in its essentials and in its various institutional forms. It then examines two related and consequential areas of debate: one on the strengths and weaknesses of the market mechanism that is central to capitalist forms of economic organization; and one on the consequences of capitalism − both the consequences for societies whose economies have long been organized on capitalist lines and the consequences for societies now seeking for the first time to organize their economies in that way. If time allows, the course also examines (in a string of mini-debates) a set of contentious issues currently occupying policy-makers charged with the management of modern capitalism.

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