Corporate Power and Social Policy: The Political Economy of the Transnational Tobacco Companies

Chris Holden, Kelley Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drawing on published tobacco document research and related sources, this article applies Farnsworth and Holden’s conceptual framework for the analysis of corporate power and corporate involvement in social policy (2006) to the transnational tobacco companies (TTCs). An assessment is made of TTCs’ structural power, the impact upon their structural position of tobacco control (TC) policies, and their use of agency power. The analysis suggests that, as a result of the growth of TC policies from the 1950s onwards, TTCs have had to rely on political agency to pursue their interests and attempt to reassert their structural position. The collapse of the Eastern bloc and the liberalization of East Asian economies presented new structural opportunities for TTCs in the 1980s and 1990s, but the development of globally coordinated TC policies facilitated by the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has the potential to constrain these.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-354
Number of pages26
JournalGlobal Social Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

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