Kevin A. Young

Assistant Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Chapter Member: Boston SSN

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About Kevin

Young’s research examines why U.S. government policies tend to reflect the interests of corporations and other elite institutions, while also seeking to understand how popular movements can disrupt that pattern and construct a more just, democratic, and sustainable world. He is currently engaged in a collaborative research project on the dynamics of political power during the Obama era. The project tries to explain the shortage of progressive policy change as well as the reasons behind the few progressive policy victories since 2009. In addition to teaching and academic research, Young has worked as an organizer and researcher in the antiwar, labor, housing rights, single-payer healthcare, and Latin American solidarity movements. Before joining University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Young worked as a researcher for the Museum of the Word and the Image in El Salvador. 

In the News

"Georgia’s Voter Suppression Is Sparking Boycotts. History Shows They Can Work.," Kevin A. Young, News Analysis|Politics and Elections, Truthout, April 9, 2021.
"Smarter Empire," Kevin A. Young, Politics, New Left Review, March 8, 2021.
"When Black Movements Win, Everybody But the 1 Percent Wins," Kevin A. Young, News Analysis|Economy and Labor, Truthout, December 24, 2020.
"History Shows That Sustained, Disruptive Protests Work," Kevin A. Young, Opinion, Yes Magazine, July 8, 2020.
"Our Debt to Central American Refugees," Kevin A. Young, Democratic Socialists of America, September 9, 2019.
"Washington Intensifies Its Collective Punishment of Venezuelans," Kevin A. Young, Nacla, August 14, 2019.
"Will Climate Change Make Family Separations the Norm?," Kevin A. Young, Environment and Health, Truthout, August 25, 2018.
"Who’s Calling the Shots?," Kevin A. Young (with Tarun Banerjee and Michael Schwartz), Jacobin, February 3, 2017.
"When Capitalists Go on Strike," Kevin A. Young (with Tarun Banerjee and Michael Schwartz), Jacobin, February 3, 2017.
"War by Other Means in El Salvador," Kevin A. Young, North American Congress on Latin America, March 16, 2016.
"Hillary Clinton and Corporate Feminism: ‘Something That Might Be Called Neocon'," Kevin A. Young (with Diana C. Sierra Becerra), Against the Current, March - April 2015.
"Two, Three, Many Colombias: The Logic and Consequences of the U.S. Vision for Latin America," Kevin A. Young, Foreign Policy in Focus, December 29, 2010.


Levers of Power: How the 1% Rules and What the 99% Can Do About It (with Tarun Banerjee and Michael Schwartz) (Verso, 2020).

Highlights the "capital strike" as a key mechanism for corporate influence over politics and argues that social movements are most effective when they directly target capitalists.

Blood of the Earth: Resource Nationalism, Revolution, and Empire in Bolivia (University of Texas Press, 2017).

Traces how resource nationalism has pitted ordinary Bolivians against conservative Bolivians against conservative Bolivian leaders, US officials, and foreign investors

"A Neglected Mechanism of Social Movement Political Influence: The Role of Anticorporate and Anti-Institutional Protest in Changing Government Policy" (with Michael Schwartz). Mobilization 19, no. 3 (2014): 239-260.
Argues that progressive social movements are more effective at influencing government policy when they target corporations and government institutions—the primary architects of policy—rather than just elected politicians.
"The Good, the Bad, and the Benevolent Interventionist: U.S. Press and Intellectual Distortions of the Latin American Left" in Latin America’s Radical Left: Challenges and Complexities of Political Power in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Steve Ellner (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), 249-269.
Challenges the widespread depiction of recent left-of-center Latin American governments as comprising a “good left” and “bad left,” arguing that the two alleged camps are in fact united on many fronts and that the so-called bad left countries actually outrank most others in respect for human rights and democracy.
"Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: How Corporate Power Shaped the Affordable Care Act" (with Michael Schwartz). New Labor Forum 23, no. 2 (2014): 30-40.
Documents the process by which the healthcare industry successfully shaped “Obamacare” in accordance with its interests and proposes a strategy by which labor and community activists might force corporations outside the health insurance sector to support a single-payer healthcare model.
"How ‘Partnership’ Weakens Solidarity: Colombian GM Workers and the Limits of UAW Internationalism" (with Diana C. Sierra Becerra). WorkingUSA 17, no. 2 (2014): 239-260.
Examines a recent U.S. solidarity movement with disabled General Motors workers in Colombia, arguing that the United Auto Workers leadership’s behind-the-scenes opposition to the movement is one result of the union’s belief in “partnership” with the company. The strategic lesson is that activists should take into account labor leaders’ bargaining relationships when trying to win union support for a cause.
"Purging the Forces of Darkness: The United States, Monetary Stabilization, and the Containment of the Bolivian Revolution" Diplomatic History 37, no. 3 (2013): 509-537.
Examines the economic means by which the Eisenhower administration attempted to neutralize the threat of the 1952 Bolivian Revolution, focusing on a 1956 U.S.-designed austerity plan that prefigured later neoliberal policies.
"Can Prefigurative Politics Prevail? The Implications for Movement Strategy in John Holloway’s Crack Capitalism" (with Michael Schwartz). Journal of Classical Sociology 12, no. 2 (2012): 220-239.
Argues that social movements’ practice of prefigurative politics should be accompanied by organization-building, selective engagement of the state, and confrontational action to undermine existing elite institutions.