Historical Perspectives On Contemporary Issues

Joseph Malherek — Free-Market Socialists

In this episode of Perspectives, we speak with Joseph Malherek, author of Free-Market Socialists: European Émigrés Who Made Capitalist Culture in America, 1918–1968. What is the surprising connection between socialism and the corporate focus group? How did socialists come to develop, of all things, the suburban American shopping mall?

Listen in as Joseph Malherek explains the socialist roots of U.S. social research. He charts the lives and careers of Hungarian artist-designer László Moholy-Nagy, the Austrian sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld, and his fellow Viennese Victor Gruen—an architect and urban planner—to tell the story of an intellectual migration from Central Europe to the United States. These figures sought answers to the question: why do people do the things they do and make the economic decisions they make? Malherek demonstrates how U.S. businesses channeled socialist thought for creative solutions to the practical problems of industrial design, urban planning, and consumer behavior.

Closed-captioning available on YouTube.

To cite this podcast, please use footnote:
Joseph Malherek, interview, Perspectives, Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine, October 5, 2022, https://www.chstm.org/video/143

Joseph Malherek received his Ph.D. from George Washington University. He is a cultural and intellectual historian, and a previous NEH Fellow at the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

Insights from the Collections
The Consortium's collections provide many opportunities to learn more about the history of social science. See the Consortium search hub to find more.
Materials related to this topic include:

Paul Felix Lazarsfeld papers, 1930-1976, Columbia University
Robert K. Merton Papers, Columbia University
Records of the Columbia University Bureau for Applied Social Research, 1963 - 1969, Columbia University
Frank Stanton Papers, Library of Congress
Victor Gruen Papers, Library of Congress
John Marshall Papers, Rockefeller Archive Center
Rockefeller Foundation Records, Rockefeller Archive Center
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