Document Type

Honors Project


Thank you to Patrick Schmidt and Erik Larson for their invaluable help.


To better understand the way in which local and national forces operate to influence the design of subnational regulatory systems, this paper analyzes the development of alcohol regulation in the post-prohibition era. In particular, I examine why, in the period between 1933 and 1935, some states adopted a monopoly system of alcohol regulation and others a license system of alcohol regulation. I use fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) and case-based research to identify causal pathways leading to each regulatory outcome. I draw on state-level demographic, religious, and voting data, as well as measures of alcohol industry prevalence and prohibition enforcement to test hypotheses of alcohol regulatory origin and variation. My study shows that while the emergence of two universally adopted models of alcohol regulation was largely the design of capitalist elites, state-level variation reflected individual population and government preferences. I find the following conditions to be among those relevant to a state’s choice of framework: Canadian heritage population, conservative religious population, immigrant population, and popular as well as government attitudes toward national prohibition. My analysis points more broadly to a hegemonic relationship between elite generated priorities and agendas at the national-level and (limited) pluralist based legislative processes at the local-level.



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