The most prominent sociological explanation for the role of military spending in the economy is the military Keynesian perspective , which contends that military spending is used as a countercyclical fiscal tool to stabilize the economy, particularly during economic downswings


 
Gordon Gauchat 
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina 
Michael Wallace
    ∗University of Connecticut at Storrs, Connecticut 
Casey Borch
       University of Alabama at Birmingham 
Travis Scott Lowe
       University of Connecticut at Storrs, Connecticut 
 
 
This article examines the “military metropolis,” an urban community that depends highly on military expenditures in order to sustain economic vitality. We build on past theories of 
military Keynesianism and employ insights from urban political economy theory to examine the effects of defense contracts and defense personnels pending on five measures of labor market quality (median household income, in-come inequality, poverty 125 percent, unemployment, and casualization) in 276 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas in the year 2000. Whereas previous studies of military spending have focused primarily on nations and U.S. states, this study exam-ines metropolitan areas. We test three hypotheses about how federal military outlaysmight influence urban economies: first, the  defense-dependency hypothesis suggests that urban areas rely on defense dollars in varying degrees to sustain their economic sta-bility and vitality. Second, the localized effects hypothesis proposes that defense person-nel spending on military bases and civilian personnel will have more immediate ef-fects on urban economies than spending on defense procurement contracts. Third,the gunbelt hypothesis predicts that military spending has affected urban economies unevenly, benefiting metropolitan areas in some regions of the country more than others. The results of this study support all three hypotheses. We offer interpretations of our results and discuss the policy implications for U.S. metropolitan areas.
 
INTRODUCTION
 
In the half-century since Mills’ The Power Elite (1956), sociologists and other social scientists have shown a growing interest in the role of the military in society, both in times of war and, particularly, in times of peace. Melman’s (1974)
The Permanent War Economy 
articulated a central concern of many scholars that the U.S. military-industrial complex
 
Correspondence should be addressed to Michael Wallace, Department of Sociology, University of Connecticut,Storrs, CT 06268-2069; michael.wallace@uconn.edu.
 
2011 American Sociological Association, 1430 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
 
CONCLUSION
Katz (2010, p. 15) has argued that “the history of urban public policy is largely one of disaster.” In the absence of a more coherent urban strategy from the federal government,one could argue that military spending has served as a kind of default option in U.S.urban policy. In short, military spending does more than ensure our national defense; it also serves a vital economic function in bolstering the economic vitality of metropolitanareas. Recently, urban scholars have opined that the Obama administration is crafting a“stealth urban policy” (Silver, 2010, p. 6) in which budget priorities reflect a tacit recom-mitment to U.S. cities and metropolitan areas. The quintessential example of this, theeconomic stimulus package, poured billions of dollars into urban jobs to rebuild infras-tructure and to service urban residents, without explicitly framing these commitments as“urban policy.” Bruce Katz (2010, p. 26) argues that Obama’s metropolitan agenda must forge a new federalist compact in which “federal and state governments serve as strategic,flexible, and accountable partners to help metros act with cohesive vision, address theircentral concerns, realize their full potential and, in so doing, resolve our most pressingnational challenges.” It is unlikely that Obama’s metro agenda will include a wholesaledismantling of the “military metropolis.” However, one sign of a potential turn in ur-ban policy is Obama’s successful effort in eliminating funding for archaic, but lucrative, weapons systems like the $67 billion F
22 fighter jet. Yet, the defunding of the F-22—that comprised over 1,000 contracts and 95,000 jobs in 44 different states— yields soberinglessons for the future: A large-scale deescalation of military spending is likely to meet  with fierce resistance from the entrenched interests that profit from the permanent war economy. Given the likely persistence of the military metropolis for years to come, future research should devote greater effort to examining this key dynamic of urban economies,particularly the alignment of political and economic interests that produce and sustain this particular type of urban development. There is a renewed urgency to understand the military metropolis, especially while the country is both at war and in recession.”
 
 
 
 
2011 American Sociological Association, 1430 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20005

 

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About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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One Response to The most prominent sociological explanation for the role of military spending in the economy is the military Keynesian perspective , which contends that military spending is used as a countercyclical fiscal tool to stabilize the economy, particularly during economic downswings

  1. Kevin Stoda says:

    One thought I have as I read through this fascinating piece is how have countries, like Japan and Germany made themselves less dependent on military spending and the power of military entrenched industries or sectors? They both still produce military materials but spend a lot less as a percentage of GNP on them as does the USA. The USA has a lot of room to devolve and could make the quality of life of its citizens better if militarism was not so economically entrenched in society.–KAS

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