Machine politics in the United States: Clientelism and immigration between 1870 and 1950

Report: Political anchoring
By François Bonnet

Machine politics are a phenomenon traced back to Irish immigration to the United States between 1870 and 1950. They were designed to win elections by mobilizing clients primarily through the distribution of public employment, as well as through personal relations and ethnic solidarity. The historiographical debate concerns the role played by the political machine among poor immigrants. The case of machine politics underscores the usefulness of examining patronage to study specific trajectories for immigrant groups’ interaction in American society.


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