Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder

According to DSM-IV-TR (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, text revision) personality disorders are defined by maladaptive personality characteristics which begin during early years of life and have serious and consistent effects on functioning (Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 2000). Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a common reason to visit a psychiatrist (Skodol, Gunderson, Pfohl, Widiger, Livesley & Siever, 2002). BPD affects 2 percent of adults (mostly young women) (Swartz, Blazer, George & Winfield, 1990). Patients with BPD present a high rate of self-injury (without intent of suicide) and a significant rate of suicide attempts and completed suicide (Soloff, Lis, Kelly, Cornelius & Ulrich, 1994).

The patients of BPD are many times in need of mental health services and approximately 20 percent of hospitalizations in the psychiatric department are of BPD patients (Zanarini, Frankenburg, Khera &. Bleichmar, 2001). A patient with depression or bipolar disorder mostly endures the same mood for weeks while a patient with BPD may experience angers (intense bouts), anxiety and depression that may endure for only hours or at the most for a day (Zanarini, Frankenburg, DeLuca, Hennen, Khera & Gunderson, 1998). A study performed by Zanarini & Frankenburg (1997) showed that most of the patients with BPD report a history of neglect, separation (as young children) or abuse. Another study performed by Zanarini (2000) concluded that 40 % to 71% of Borderline Personality Disorder & Attachment Theory.

Origin of Borderline Personality Disorder

Children who have been exposed to psychological and physical neglect, sexual and physical abuse and maltreatment are at risk of developing BPD. The mental trauma faced by these children is due to neglect and abuse by a primary caregiver. This trauma disrupts the normal and healthy development of secure attachment. And as a result these children develop disorganized attachment (anxiety and depression). The children who are neglected are at risk of social rejection, incompetence feeling and social withdrawal. Neurobiological dysfunction can be caused because of abuse and neglect by primary caregiver. In order to develop a capacity of regulating emotions and developing a coherent sense of self the child has a requirement of attachment from the primary caregiver.

Attachment Theory and Borderline Personality Disorder

As per the ethological perspective of John Bowlby (1977, 1980, 1991) BPD can be considered as a condition of significant insecure attachment (with significant oscillations between detachment and attachment & between yearning and longing). The working models present in affect regulation and a lack of coherence (mainly in relationships with others) (Bowlby, 1973). The sorrow of detachment faced in early childhood negatively impacts the psychology of the person and this result in heightened sensitivity to loss and separation. It is also important to note here that since these feelings and thoughts are disconnected to the happenings in early childhood these individuals are unable to understand the reason behind their reaction. Research scholars (Melges & Swartz, 1989) have compared the fluctuations in the behaviour of BPD patients to prickly porcupines – they are of the opinion that patients with BPD are in need of someone but when someone comes close to them they drive themselves away as a result of fear. Thus BPD patients are looking for secure attachment but they fear rejection, anxiety and anger that could result (Bowlby, 1979). Melges and Swartz (1989) are also of the opinion that patients with BPD are preoccupied with regulating space. They do not feel the “invisible elastic” of attachment (Bowlby, 1969, p. 45). Also they are unable to protect themselves from anxiety of separation (Adler & Buie, 1979). The influence of certain types of experiences as related to family can be the cause of separation anxiety (Bowlby, 1988). John Bowlby’s “The seminal developmental theory” for treatment of BPD patients (Bowlby, 1969; Bowlby, 1973; Bowlby, 1980) has gained great attention. Bowlby proposed that human beings face pressures of natural selection in order to evolve behavioural patterns (example, clinging, smiling and proximity seeking ), that evoke in adults the caretaking behaviour (example, soothing, holding and touching).

These behaviours are reciprocal and encourage the development of an affective and enduring tie between caregiver and infant, which forms attachment. It is the result of these parental responses that internal models of the self and others are developed in infants which act as templates in the functioning of relationships later in life (Bowlby, 1973).

The Findings and Proposals of Bowlby the Following Is True In Case Of Attachment (Bowlby, 1973)

1. Model Of Self: The Internal Working Of It Is Related To The Degree Of Acceptance And Love One Has In The Eyes Of Primary Attachment Figures.

2. Model Of Others: The Internal Working Of It Is Related To How Available And Responsive Attachment Figures Are Expected To Be.

Attachment plays a very crucial role in the development of an external environment from which the child develops a safe and secure internal model of the self. Security on the grounds of attachment as perceived by the child results in his or her exploration of the world with confidence; this confidence springs by the availability of the caregiver. Security in attachment thus promises consistent, coherent and positive self-image. It also provides a feeling of being worthy of love and expectation that the important ones to him or her will be responsive and accepting. We here note that Bowlby has presented to the scientific mind the importance and need of attachment as essential to infants and children. Thus, attachment can be considered as an essential ingredient in the production of a psychologically healthy life. Now let us consider BPD patients, it is a case where the security in attachment is absent and there is a split and malevolent representation of self and others (Kernberg, 1967). In the life of BPD patients we usually observe angry, manipulative and needy relationships (Benjamin, 1993).

A number of scientific studies and intellectual thoughts have considered that intolerance of aloneness is the main defining characteristic of BPD and it is essential to note here that the descriptive criteria of DSM are also of the same opinion (Adler & Buie, 1979). Thus, the concepts and theories of attachment in many ways relate to DSM diagnostic criteria. Gunderson (1996) proposed that the early attachment failures actually constitute the cause of intolerance. He noted that in times of distress and sorrow patients with BPD are unable to invoke a “soothing interject” and this is due to unstable and inconsistent attachments to early caregivers. The above proposed scientific thoughts of Gunderson (1996) are same as that of Bowlby’s concept of insecure attachment.

The Scientific Observations Of Gunderson (1996) The Following Points Are True In Case Of Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder:

A Feeling of Insecurity on Grounds Of Attachment, Especially Pertinent To:

  • Plea for Attention
  • Pleas for Help
  • Checking For Proximity
  • Clinging

A Feeling of the Following in Borderline Personality Disorder Patients:

  • Denial Of
  • Dependency Needs
  • Fearfulness About

Based on the comparison of theories of object relations and attachment (Lyons-Ruth & Jacobvitz 1999) distinguished between normal processes (in early development) of separation individualization from the disorganized conflict behaviour (for attachment figures) by toddlers who are at significant risk for development of psychopathology. She identified that in infants the disorganized insecure attachment as a risk factor in the later development of BPD. Thus, we can state that as per the findings of Lycos-Ruth those infants who are victims of insecure attachments during the early years of life are at risk of developing BPD during later years of their life.

Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder

Attachment Therapy

In 1990, ATTACh (Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of children) was created in order to address the need of society and families to deal with critical attachment and bonding issues. ATTACh has cited important principles of attachment therapy and this includes the following:

1. Attachment therapy can be defined as a therapeutic process that is designed with the aim to define, develop and promote reciprocal attachment relationship and that which completely meets the criteria of that therapeutic process as defined and developed by ATTACh.

2. The aim of treatment by attachment therapy is to address the attachment problems and enable patients with healthy attachment relationships.

3. The emphasis in attachment therapy is laid on touch, physical and emotional closeness, reciprocal behaviours, empathy, atonement, communication, playfulness and humour. The attachment and bonding therapists are therefore required to treat with attention to the physical and psychological safety and wellbeing of the children and adults.

4. Family systems approach is of prime importance in attachment therapy. Thus there is need to correct child’s relationship with his or her primary caregiver.

5. It is essential to assess and study the following;

  • Psychological history
  • Educational history
  • Treatment history
  • Medical history
  • Attachment & Social history (including breaks in attachment)
  • Developmental history (including prenatal and birth)
  • Intellectual and Cognitive skills and deficits
  • Family functioning
  • Differential diagnosis (including DSM and ICD diagnoses)

6. Parents and children form the most active group of treatment regimen. Attempts are made to develop healthier patterns of interaction and communication.

7. To assist parents to develop parenting strategies in order to support positive attachments.

8. Description of any shortcomings attachment therapy might have for treating this issue and what else could be fused with attachment therapy to meet these needs.

Criticisms of Attachment Therapy

1) The application of attachment therapy for treatment of patients with BPD is equated with rebirthing or holding therapy and the techniques used to achieve the results are dangerous.

2) During the treatment of patients with BPD the attachment therapists make use of criteria that are even beyond those provided by the DSM-IV-TR (Zeanah 1996; Boris et al 2004). The strong correlation between insecure attachment and pathological parent-child interaction as shown by attachment therapy are beyond the symptoms listed in the DSM criteria (Bowlby 1944, 1973).

3) The attachment therapists many times over diagnose BPD.

  • Almost 87% to 96% of the children, who experience abuse, neglect or both, show an insecure attachment (Crittenden, 1988).
  • Between 50% and 80% of the adopted children have attachment disorder symptoms (Carlson, Cicchetti, Barnett & Braunwald, 1989).
  • Approximately 20% of children living in homeless shelter and nearly two thirds in foster care are identified with attachment disorders (Boris, Wheeler, Heller & Zeanah, 2000).

4) Attachment therapy is not supported with “empirical evidence” While attachment therapy can provide treatment of BPD, studies have revealed the effectiveness of other therapeutic methods as well. These methods have been briefly described below:

1. Psychotherapy

Randomized controlled studies have presented the efficacy of dialectical behaviour therapy and psychodynamic / psychoanalytic therapy (Bateman & Fonagy, 2001). The treatment provided in these trials comprises of three key features;

  • Meetings with an individual therapist (once a week)
  • Group sessions (one or more in a week)
  • Meetings of therapists for supervision or consultation

The psychotherapist’s approaches include a building of a strong therapeutic alliance and monitoring the suicidal or self-destructive behaviours. Other essential component of effective treatment plan for patients with BPD includes managing feelings, promoting reflection action (and not impulsive action), reducing patient’s splitting tendency, and limiting the behaviours related to self-destruction. There is some empirical data that supports individual psychodynamic psychotherapy.

2. Group Therapy

Group therapy for BPD patients is supported with research findings that indicate that it can be helpful (Greene & Cole 1991). Note: However, the benefit of family therapy in the treatment of BPD patients is not evaluated yet with research studies.

Descriptions of how dimensions of cultural context impact the issue you are discussing. How might this inform your treatment? I strongly believe that psychologists should not be racists. Today we are required to treat patients of different ethnic groups and countries during our clinical practice. Even an expression of detachment or neglect can hurt hard the patients with BPD. As discussed above the patients with BPD are in need of love and acceptance, care and attachment, understanding and touch, soothing approach and closeness. If a psychologist will distinguish on the grounds of colour, race, region and country then s/he won’t be able to perform well because for the treatment of BPD patients with attachment therapy it is essential to shower true attachment. Roentsch (1985) defines racism as: “Let there be no misunderstanding. A racist is anyone who accepts the existence of racial collectives”. Amongst doctors there is a belief in the a priori inferiority of non-white (Eysenck, 1990: pp. 215-220). The facts on racism reveal that we divide the world into ‘in-group and out-group’ or ‘us and them’ (Baron and Byrne, 1994: pp. 228-229). An important study first conducted by Clark and Clark (1947, in Baron and Byrne, 1994: 256) showed that a significant proportion of non-white children had internalized the attitudes of white racist. Thus the reaction of non-white adolescents towards white psychologists can be considered to be different from the reaction towards non-white psychologists. These racists’ feelings need to be addressed with maturity and patience. The dealings, behaviour and communication need to be such monitored that the feeling of racism is absent.

Self-issues that may impact a clinician’s conceptualization and treatment of this issue from an attachment perspective. How might one’s cultural context inform what they see and how they see it? What should clinicians be cautious of? Bonus points for examination of your own “self” in relation to treating this issue from an attachment perspective.

During my school times I lost my best friend because of racial differentiation attitude of a teacher. I was very much in harmony with my non-white friend. We had a high level of understanding and we loved spending time together. We were best friends for 3 years. However, my teacher did not like us being friends. She was white and disliked non-white people. Though she did not show it openly but it was obvious by some of her remarks at different times about non-white people. My teacher asked me to quit my friendship with the non-white girl. At first I was very much hurt by my teacher’s approach but then I agreed to it. This is because my teacher said that she will assure that I will get better grades in school if I agreed to what she said. My friend was very much hurt when I broke friendship with her. And after doing this I felt guilty for doing something really wrong. Even several years after quitting friendship with her, I feel sorry for my decision. Actually for some part of my life I had started thinking the way my teacher thought. I use to respect my teachers and had a feeling that they are always right. This is the reason why I started feeling that my teacher’s attitude towards non-white people was right. However, my thoughts have changed to good after leaving school. Now, I am equally friendly towards both non-white and white. I have both non-white and white as my friends. But sometimes the thought that I was once a racist makes me feel guilty. When I recollect that I was once a racist, I lose confidence in dealing with non-white people. I noted this when I was working on the treatment of a BPD patient who was non-white. I need to be more confident in my dealing with non-white people. I need to feel sure that I no more differentiate between non-white and white. I think I will gain this confidence when as a result of my sincere work several non-white BPD patients will get healed.

Describe what the early, middle and ending phases of therapy might look like for treating this issue based on what you have learned. Please also include some possible interventions and assessment methods. Attachment theory has been applied to both children and adults suffering from detachment. Bowlby (1969) formed a lifelong attachment behavioural system which encourages secure attachment. The attachment thus begins with the child’s requirement of secure attachment from the primary caregiver. The behaviour of attachment is organized and revolves around primary care giver. The feelings of attachment are elicited during the period of mental or physical discomfort or stress (1969). As per Bowlby’s (1969) perspective BPD can be considered as a condition of significant insecure attachment. There exists number of oscillations between detachment and attachment. The early childhood experiences of BPD patients are that of detachment, neglect, abuse, separation and loneliness. Thus the systems that mediate the feelings of attachment and positive behaviour are distorted and deactivated. In addition to this BPD patients have intense fear linked with loss and separation. However, since BPD patients do not remember their childhood time when they were neglected and abused they are unable to understand the reason behind their behaviour. I think a therapist is required to develop a secure and genuine attachment relationship with the BPD patients. The patient should feel completely secure in his or her relationship with the therapist. S/he should have no fear of loss or separation as related to relationship with the therapist. Development of a ‘secure’ attachment can help establish happiness in the life of the patient.

BPD patients are in need of love but the fear of loss and separation drives them away from people. It is therefore crucial that this fear of loss and separation should be dealt in the first phase of treatment. The patient with BPD should be counselled in such a manner that s/he starts gaining confidence in building secure relationships. The approach of the therapist should be driven by ‘attachment’ and ‘love’. Thus, while attempting to heal the BPD patient of the fear of separation, the therapist should try to build his or her own place in the heart of the patient. The approach should not only aim to heal the fear but also to open ways for love and attachment. The therapist should make the patient feel that s/he really cares for him. That it is not just a routine responsibility or duty to address the need of the patient. The therapist should show that s/he has started loving the patient and has become attached with him. S/he has started caring for the needs and essential requirements of the patient. A feeling of attachment should spring from within the heart of the therapist and should touch the emotions of the patient. Parents of the patient should be educated on the basics of attachment.

They should be taught the need of touch, eye contact, motion, love, compassion, care and attachment. The issues related to behaviour should be addressed and the pitfalls should be examined. The treatment should include a review of the attachment issues of the parents’. The parents should be educated on good ways to bring up the child. The attachment from parents and primary care taker are essential for answering the need of BPD patients. Gregory C. Keck states that holding the child or adolescent gives rise in an emotional response and intensity that cannot be achieved by any other medicine or therapeutic regimen. Therapist should educate the parents or the primary caretaker to hold the child or adolescent. The therapist should work to build in attachment between the child/adolescent and the parents/primary caretaker. Building of relationship and providing security and affection from parents or primary caretaker should be assured.

The therapist should also spend time to build in attachment between the child/adolescent and himself

The therapist should also work to repair the relationship that has been broken. S/he should try to develop more peaceful and lovable feelings between the child/adolescent and the parents/primary caretaker. The therapist can also do the holding of the child/adolescent and then s/he can transfer the responsibility to the parent or primary caretaker. The therapist is also required to make an important clinical judgment with regard to the suitability of the primary caretaker or parent for such an attachment. Guidance and education as related to the attachment should be provided by the therapist. In addition to holding ‘eye contact’ is an important part of attachment therapy. Eye contact opens the door to the heart of the person and builds attachment.

In conclusion, the therapist should believe in building relationships of attachment. A feeling of security should be the base of such attachments. Broken attachments should be repaired and new attachments should be built-in. The therapist should form attachment of the patient with himself or herself. In addition to this attachment should be built between the parent/primary caretaker and the child or adolescent. Education should be imparted on developing attachment. Today, in the modern days parents find little time for their children. Many times they forget to care for their own child. The child gets hurt each moment by a lot of anxiety, depression, neglect and loneliness. The child loses the charm of attachment and feels that s/he won’t get attachment from anyone. I believe that in order to begin with attachment therapy it is essential for the therapist to first build attachment between himself and the child/adolescent. Therapist should also build in attachment between himself and the parents of the child/adolescent. This is because the parents who feel attachment from the therapist will be more responsive and agreeable to treatment.

Attachment Can Create Wonders in the World of Therapy and Therapeutics

Attachment speaks to the heart and touches the emotions to bring forth a feeling of recovery. I strongly believe that attachment therapy is the best suit for patients with BPD. This is because attachment can repair the broken hearts, the fading hopes, the dying relationships and the detached home. I would strongly recommend attachment therapy as a method of choice for the treatment of patients with BPD. Children and adolescents want someone to speak to their heart, someone who understands their need of attachment and addresses to their requirement of love, touch, care and affection. During all the phases of treatment this should be kept in mind and should be reflected in approach and practice of the therapist.


Attachment theory is a good addition to the knowledge of psychology and its application can be beneficial for the treatment of BPD patients. While dealing with patients of BPD the psychologist should not have racist attitude and his or her approach should be confident.


Adler, G., Buie, D. H. Jr. (1979). Aloneness and borderline psychopathology. The possible relevance of child developmental issues. Int J Psychoanal, 60, 83–96

Baron, R. & Byrne, D. (1994). Social Psychology (7th ed.,). MA: Allyn and Bacon, Boston

Bateman, A. & Fonagy, P. (2001). Treatment of borderline personality disorder with psychoanalytically oriented partial hospitalization: an 18-month follow-up. Am J Psychiatry, 158, 36–42

Benjamin, L. S. (1993). Interpersonal diagnosis and treatment of personality disorders. New York: Guilford

Boris, N. W., Hinshaw-Fuselier, S. S., Smyke, A. T., Scheeringa, M. S., Heller, S. S. & Zeanah,

C. H. (2004). Comparing criteria for attachment disorders: establishing reliability and validity in high-risk samples. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 43(5), 568-77

Boris, N. W., Wheeler, E. E., Heller, S. S. & Zeanah, C. H. (2000). Attachment and developmental psychopathology. Psychiatry, 63, 75-84

Bowlby, J. (1944). Forty-four juvenile thieves: Their characters and home life. International

Journal of Psychoanalysis, 25, 19–53

Bowlby J. (1969). Attachment and loss. Vol. I: Attachment. New York: Basic Books

Bowlby, J. (1973). Attachment and Loss. Vol. 2: Separation, Anxiety, and Anger. New York: Basic Books

Bowlby, J. (1979). Psychoanalysis as art and science. International Review of Psycho-analysis, 6(3), 3-14

Bowlby J. (1980). Attachment and Loss. Vol. 3: Sadness and depression. New York: Basic Books

Bowlby, J. (1991). Charles Darwin. New York: W. W. Norton

Carlson, V., Cicchetti, D., Barnett, D. & Braunwald, K. (1989). Finding order in disorganization: Lessons from research in maltreated infants’ attachments to their caregivers

Cicchetti & V. Carlson (Eds.), Child Maltreatment: Theory and research on the causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect. New York: Cambridge University Press

Crittenden, P. M. (1988). Relationships at risk. In J. Belsky & T. Nezworski (Eds.), The clinical implications of attachment (pp. 136-174). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum

Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (2000). (4th ed.) [text revision] Washington: American Psychiatric Association.

Eysenck, H. J. (1990). Rebel With A Cause. London: W H Allen and Co.

Greene, L. R., Cole, M. B. (1991). Level and form of psychopathology and the structure of group therapy. Int J Group Psychother, 41, 499–521

Gunderson, J. G. (1996). The borderline patient’s intolerance of aloneness: insecure attachments and therapist availability. Am J Psychiatry, 153, 752–8

Kernberg, O. (1967). Borderline personality organization. J Am Psychoanal Assoc, 15, 641–85

Lyons-Ruth, K. & Jacobvitz, D. (1999). Attachment disorganization: unresolved loss, rational violence, and lapses in behavioral and attentional strategies. In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: theory, research, and clinical implications (pp. 520–44). New York: Guilford.

Melges, F. T. & Swartz, M. S. (1989). Oscillations of attachment in borderline personality disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 146(9), 1115-1120

Roentsch, D. (1985). Racists define Racism. In The Radical Capitalist (USA), 3(4), 2-6

Skodol, A. E., Gunderson, J. G., Pfohl, B., Widiger, T. A., Livesley, W. J. & Siever, L. J. (2002). The borderline diagnosis. I: Psychopathology, comorbidity, and personality structure. Biol Psychiatry, 51, 936-50

Soloff, P. H., Lis, J. A., Kelly, T., Cornelius, J. & Ulrich, R. (1994). Self-mutilation and suicidal behavior in borderline personality disorder. Journal of Personality Disorders, 8(4), 257-67

Swartz, M., Blazer, D., George, L. & Winfield, I. (1990). Estimating the prevalence of borderline personality disorder in the community. Journal of Personality Disorders, 4(3), 257-72

Zanarini, M. C. (2000). Childhood experiences associated with the development of borderline personality disorder. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 23(1), 89-101

Zanarini, M. C. & Frankenburg, F. R. (1997). Pathways to the development of borderline personality disorder. Journal of Personality Disorders, 11(1), 93-104

Zanarini, M. C., Frankenburg, F. R., DeLuca, C. J., Hennen, J., Khera, G. S. & Gunderson, J.

G. (1998). The pain of being borderline: dysphoric states specific to borderline personality disorder. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 6(4), 201-7

Zanarini, M. C., Frankenburg, F. R., Khera, G. S., &. Bleichmar, J. (2001). Treatment histories of borderline inpatients. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 42, 144-150

Zeanah, C. H., Scheeringa, M., Boris, N. W., Heller, S. S., Smyke, A. T., & Trapani, J. (2004) Reactive attachment disorder in maltreated toddlers. Child Abuse & Neglect, 28, 877-888

View Health Studies Dissertations Here

Tips Choosing A Dissertation Topic

Six Tips When Choosing a Dissertation Topic

Choosing a dissertation topic is the first and most important part of the dissertation writing process. You should be interested in the topic and the research needs to be easily readable, fluid, informative, attainable and more importantly to answer the research question posed by the author. There needs to be adequate and readily available facts to comfortably help you accomplish your dissertation research project. Below are six methods which may help you discover a dissertation title and to kick start the writing process and more importantly help you in choosing a dissertation topic.

Choosing a Dissertation Topic
Choosing a Dissertation Topic

1. Make the Topic Interesting and Informative

A lot of researchers and student undertaking a dissertation project of spend months, if not years composing their dissertation. You should choose a topic that you are familiar with and have a good understanding of. If you are not enthusiastic about a topic then there is a high probability that you will waste a lot of research time and effort. Image yourself as the reader and try to make your dissertation stimulating.

2. Attainable and Solvable Dissertation Topics

Can the questions or hypotheses in the dissertation be answered and is the topics too broad with no real relevance to your field of research? If you are about to write a Marketing Dissertation try not to write a dissertation outside of this subject field, make it relevant and informative to individuals within the marketing arena. Make sure you can answer the questions within the time frame set by your university or supervisor, I am aware of so many students failing their dissertation project because they ran out of time, or they hurried their research resulting in a lower grade. Try to break your research into attainable milestones and be realistic when doing this.

3. Be Organized

Organization is so critical when you are looking to start a dissertation project. From experience I suggest you have a well structured electronic filing system on your computer. Create folders to mirror the dissertation chapters, try to keep all your files in one location and make sure to back this up from time to time. Don’t have files located on numerous computers and folder structures as you will lose track and valuable time. Also use folders to keep copies of printouts and photocopied material, this will prove useful when conducting a Literature Review or Appendix Section of the dissertation. Try to identify best days to conduct your research, weekend is a good time as you can reflect on the material gathered during the previous week and you can identify what material you need in the forthcoming weeks.

4. Expand on Existing Material You Have Written

If you intend to write a Business Dissertation take a look at what you have already written in previous modules or classes in degree. You will be surprised on how much you have already written and how relevant the material is to your project. From my experiences of writing dissertations, you can use existing literature already identified in previous modules, this is also true of academic models, structure and you may extend a previous topic you have written about and turn that into your own dissertation topic. Inspiration can be found within oneself.

5. Original and Meaningful Content

There are many dissertation topics and ideas that are interesting, attainable and solvable however, someone else may have already covered the topics you are looking into. It is safe to say that if your dissertation supervisor lectures a class of 200 students on the current global economic environment, a significant number of students will write their dissertation topic relating to this subject area. Try to find gaps in existing research or a void in current knowledge, this will make your research more readable and you will get a lot of satisfaction from it. This will prove useful experience when you leave university and start your career in employment. Groundbreaking dissertation research tends to be unique and highly thought provoking whilst adding a valuable contribution to the subject area.

6.  Relax and Compose Yourself

Lets be honest, dissertations are in-depth and complex to write if you have never written a dissertation or thesis before. You need to gather your thoughts and do not go off on a different tangent when writing your dissertation. Try to visualize who will be reading your dissertation, in reality on a handful of fellow students and your dissertation supervisor will read your dissertation and it is highly unlikely that it will make the cover of The Wall Street Journal. Don’t be afraid to use the writing style you have adopted at university whilst paying careful consideration to your university guidelines. Remember, writing your dissertation is one of the most satisfying aspects of undertaking a degree or professional university qualification. Writing your dissertation can prove enjoyable and you will benefit from a sense of accomplishment once you have completed it.

To summarize, your dissertation must be interesting, relevant to the subject area you are acquainted with and you must answer the questions and hypotheses presented. Be organized, look at your existing writing contributions, don’t be afraid and make sure you complete your dissertation on time. Hopefully, the tips on choosing a dissertation topic will prove useful to you.

What Is A Dissertation

What Is A Dissertation?

Many students ask us the question – What Is A Dissertation?… Well, your dissertation will be the most challenging aspect of your university study. It may also be an unfamiliar mode of assessment that requires you to engage independently with your subject matter, at a level of both breadth and detail that is perhaps not typical of most other forms of assessment. A crucial aspect of all this is to ensure that you are aware of all the elements involved in the dissertation writing process and that you allow yourself adequate time to do your dissertation topic justice. At most universities around the world, a dissertation or thesis is an extended piece of academic writing based on extensive reading of a subject area and independent research at an undergraduate or postgraduate level. Having been the longest established sample dissertations website we are here to assist and support you in preparing your own dissertation project by giving you some general information on how a dissertation is structured and what a dissertation is.

Many of you will be expected to construct and submit your own original idea for a dissertation topic, though students in certain disciplines (e.g. business) may either be given a specific topic, or expected to choose from a list of suitable projects. Nonetheless, it is advisable that you start to think about your choice of dissertation topic at the earliest possible early stage of your final year, if not earlier. Let’s make no mistake about it, your dissertation research project is probably the single most important task you will undertake whilst at university or college, and is often a key indicator of your true capabilities as a student and researcher. In addition to the information contained in this article, you must refer to the instructions and guidelines outlined in your nominated study program. It is worth noting that different subject areas have different expectations, referencing styles and support mechanisms for the dissertation. For example, in some areas you are able to formulate your own dissertation title, whilst in others you will be required to choose from a list of predefined titles. The content and structure of a dissertation can differ across national boundaries and level of study.

What Is A Dissertation
What Is A Dissertation

The structure of an undergraduate dissertation written at a UK university can differ immensely to an undergraduate dissertation written at a North American university. This is due to how learning content is delivered and taught and many words can be used interchangeably. For example a dissertation abstract can be referred to as a dissertation synopsis. Similarly, a dissertation appendix can be referred to as an annexure. Some universities encourage The Harvard System of referencing while other universities prefer citing dissertations using the APA, MLA, Chicago and AAA Styles, the list goes on. Nonetheless, a dissertation is, in essence, a piece of research submitted in support of submission for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author’s research and findings. Never lose sight of this. We at will give an insightful overview to what a dissertation is:

A Dissertation Adheres To Certain Fundamental Principles Of Academic Writing:

  • It is a structured piece of writing that develops a clear line of thought in response to a central question or plan.
  • What Is A Dissertation?… A dissertation is an extended piece of work, usually divided into chapters, and containing a significantly more detailed examination of your subject matter and evidence than is the case for most essays.
  • Because you usually have much more responsibility in choosing your research topic, and for sourcing supporting material, your dissertation provides evidence of your ability to carry out highly independent study and research.
  • You are typically expected to be clear about the methodology you have used to gather and evaluate your evidence. This aspect of producing a dissertation has much greater emphasis than in a typical essay or assignment.
  • Those of you undertaking analysis of quantitative data must similarly ensure that you adhere to the methodological requirements expected within your academic discipline and that you utilise the appropriate software such as SPSS and SYSTAT. You must satisfy yourself as to these requirements within your subject area.

It is highly advisable for you to ask your supervisor where you can find details of any regulations about your dissertation, such as its word count, structure and submission details. You should pay special attention to this. Hopefully, we have answered your question of what is a dissertation.

Dissertation Structure


The length of the Abstract should be no more than 300-500 words, but not included in the formal word count.

The purpose of this very short section is to tell the reader something about the contents. About 1/3 of the Abstract should explain what you intended to do (parameters). The other 2/3rds should tell the reader what you did, including recommendations.

The Abstract may duplicate some material included in the Introduction and/or Conclusion


The length of the Introduction should be about 10% of the whole dissertation.

The Introduction gives you the opportunity to provide your reader with an overview of the dissertation. Firstly, introduce the topic; secondly, outline the key areas to be covered; and identify your primary aims and objectives.

The background section should be short and securely focused on the topic, real statistical data can be included.

Larger themes, as well as specific topics, should be identified

Literature Review

The length of the Literature review should be about 20% of whole dissertation.

This chapter gives you an opportunity to show the reader that you have learned to analyse and to synthesise the views of others in relation to your own research programme.

The Literature Review is NOT a Book Review. Contents of books and articles are only useful if particular points have some direct relevance to your dissertation. In Literature Review you should compare and contrast ideas, theories and/or views relevant to your proposed research topic. Keep in mind that at least 10 references should be discussed and 3-4 different models or theories or views should be mentioned.

At the end of this chapter, identify the principal research questions to be addressed in the dissertation. These will form the basis of your dissertation in the subsequent chapter on Research Methodology.

Research Methodology

The Research Methodology chapter in length should be about 20% of whole dissertation.

This chapter gives you an opportunity to discuss the research programme that you have designed for your dissertation.

Begin by reviewing briefly some common methods advocated for structuring research programmes.

Then look again at the research questions formulated at the end of the Literature Review. Select the kind of programme best suited for addressing those particular research questions, and discus the reasons prompting your decision.

Discuss the research strategies adopted, the collection procedures selected and the difficulties and/or problems encountered.

Findings and Discussion

You might divide this chapter for two like:

    • Analysis of Findings
    • Discussion

This is the largest and probably the most important part in assessing your research by examiners. The length of this section should be about 30% of the whole dissertation.

The Findings and Discussion chapter gives you an opportunity to discuss your research findings.

Your findings may be derived from the analyses of statistical data, interviews, questionnaires or any viable combination of instruments used for research collection and the measurement of data.

Link important points of this chapter back to principle ideas in the Literature Review with the evidence obtained in your own research.

End this chapter with a brief summary of you findings. This, in turn, should set the scene for the concluding chapter.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Again you can divide this chapter on two smaller parts:

  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations or Recommendations from the future studies

This chapter in lengths should be about 15% of the whole dissertation.

The Conclusions and Recommendations chapter gives you the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of your research programme and to offer recommendations, if desired.

Conclusions can be rather short, because the bulk of the analysis and synthesis of material will probably have taken place in the chapter of Findings and Discussion.

In your Conclusions be sure that all of the questions raised in the Literature Review have been addressed. Weigh the final results of your research against the original aims and objectives of the dissertation. Anomalies, for example, can be important and interesting.

Add recommendations if you desired. Ideas for further research and/or some strategies advocated for better management of the issue or the enterprise are particularly useful.


Not included in the word count

This part of the dissertation gives you the opportunity to show the reader what research sources were used in your dissertation.

All books articles, sources of statistical data and web sites used in the dissertation must be listed in the bibliography. Additional sources consulted should be also be placed in the bibliography

Entries in the Bibliography should be placed in alphabetical order. Web sites, however, should be grouped together separately at the end of the Bibliography.


Not included in the word count

This part of the dissertation gives you an opportunity to add interesting research material to your dissertation.

Interview summaries and sample questionnaires, for example, should appear in the Appendices

Click Here To View Sample Dissertations

Dissertation Structure

Dissertation Structure

Your research dissertation may prove to be the longest piece of academic writing you will undertake during your studies, but there are useful methods that will assist you in making the task of writing a dissertation less troublesome. It is important to note that structure is critical along with time management; you should allocate a reasonable amount of time on structuring your dissertation correctly. It will help you gain a better overall grade and having a structured dissertation will keep you on track. This article will outline the typical structure of a dissertation.

Title Page

The dissertation title is an ideal opportunity to tell the reader and academic supervisor what your research is focused on. You will need it to be explicit, concise, on topic, descriptive, and representative of the research topic you have undertaken. More likely than not, there will be a required format for the title page in your research discipline, it is advisable to check how a title page is constructed at your institution, it may be best to check with your supervisor and locate previously written title pages by fellow students. I have written three dissertations during my time spent in education and the illustration below shows how I constructed my dissertation title page;

Dissertation Structure
Dissertation Structure

This tends to be the shortest and most concise section of your thesis or dissertation, but it is advisable in taking great care to write it well. Fundamentally, the abstract is a brief summary of the research undertaken. It should be able to represent the dissertation aim and objectives, and what the results and implications of the research are. In most cases a dissertation abstract is only one page long and you may have to adhere to a word limit, it is worth checking this with your supervisor and university guidelines. Be mindful that the dissertation abstract is an important section of your dissertation or thesis, it will naturally become a document in its own right, and there is a possibility that your dissertation may become registered on an academic database. Now that prospect sounds exciting. As the abstract comes before the main body of the dissertation, it may be prudent to write the abstract at an early stage when constructing your dissertation or thesis. It may form the framework for your research and will act as an aid in identifying the dissertation rationale and findings. This in turn will help formulate the structure of the dissertation.

Click the link to read further information about dissertation abstracts


This section is not mandatory and I tend not to include an acknowledgements section in my research. If you decide to include this, it will be an opportunity to mention individuals who have been particularly helpful to you while you have been writing your dissertation. Casting your eye over previously written acknowledgements by fellow students will give you a rough idea of the ways in which different kinds of guidance and support has been appreciated and mentioned. Again, this is not a mandatory section and you will not get downgraded for not including an acknowledge section.

Contents Page and List of Figures

The contents page in its simplest form denotes the structure of the dissertation. Any discrepancy in space devoted to different sections of dissertation content will become noticeable, it is important that the contents outlined in the contents page match the headings and subheadings throughout the document. Be mindful that many universities assess the presentation of a dissertation and the content structure is often seen as a significant contributor towards the final grade of a dissertation. It is recommended that you build a separate contents list for data tables, charts, figures and graphs.

Dissertation Contents
Dissertation Contents


In most cases this is the first section of writing the reader encounters after the abstract or executive summary, it is often best to leave its preparation to last as, until then, you will not be totally sure what you are introducing, it is far easier to write an introduction once your dissertation is near to completion. When writing a dissertation the introduction has two primary roles (1) to expand the material summarized in the abstract section and (2) to indicate the content of the dissertation sections. I strongly advise that you include the following points to your dissertation introduction;

  1. Research aims and objectives
  2. Research concepts
  3. Dissertation rationale
  4. Methodology employed and scope
  5. Brief outline of research questions and hypotheses
  6. How collated data was analyzed and where it originated from
  7. Structure of the dissertation

Click the link to read further information about a dissertation introduction

Literature Review

The main purpose of the literature review is to demonstrate that you have painstakingly explored and understand where your dissertation or thesis fits into the research field you have undertaken, have you identified existing theory and how does this relate to your research? You should be able to demonstrate the ability to identify key scholars and theories applicable to your research dissertation and how you have applied, assessed and critiqued this research. To do this you need to;

  1. Define the current state of research in your chosen subject area
  2. Assess whether there are any closely related areas that you also need to refer to in your research dissertation
  3. Identify any gaps in literature where you argue that further research needs to be explored and added
  4. Explain how you plan to address research gaps

This can lead to a clear statement of the research questions or hypotheses that you will be addressing. Further to the research context, there may be additional research contexts to present in your research. Typically, this would include;

  1. Theoretical or hypothetical context
  2. Methodological or operational context
  3. Practice context
  4. Political context

Undoubtedly, it may prove a little difficult to identify the optimal sequence for the above contexts as your specific research questions can be complex and there may be a handful of reasons why the research is needed in the field of study. It is worthwhile taking additional time to develop a fluid structure as this will help to convince examiners of the relevance of your research and that you understand its significance to field of study. The literature review should also be a straightforward description of how you conducted the research and how you referenced existing literature and theory.

The literature review reflects on critical points of current knowledge including findings written by prominent scholars, as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to a particular topic. Remember that a literature review is a secondary research source, and as such, do not report any unpublished, developmental or experimental research. Also, a literature review has a prominence in setting the research undertaken within the body of literature and to provide a clear context for the reader. Never forget that academic literature reviews are an integral element for research in nearly every academic field, regardless of the level of study.

Click the link to read further information about a dissertation literature review

Results and Findings

Many academics perceive the results and findings as the most fascinating and worthwhile elements of a research study, many scholars unearth significant results that can radically change the way a subject area is perceived. Many see this as a Eureka Moment. As a student, you will need to check which style of academic writing is best suited to your field of study. For example a scientific dissertation will have a clear separation between the results and the discussion of results presented; whereas a social science dissertation will contain a findings section that brings the results and discussion together to formulate a conclusion.

Click the link to read further information about dissertation findings


The discussion section will allow you to evaluate the research in relation to the wider study, this will ascertain if you have kept your research on topic or not, and if you’ve answered the questions you intended or not. You will be able to refer back to the initial dissertation rationale that you gave for your introduction and literature review sections. You will also be able to see how impactful your research is and discuss what your own research study has added in the respective field. It is important to show that you appreciate the limitations of your research (be realistic) and how these may affect the validity and impact of the research findings. If you have acknowledged certain research limitations, you can report on the implications of your findings for theory, research, and practice in general.

Conclusions and Final Thoughts

Normally, this section of the dissertation tends to be much shorter than the aforementioned discussion. It is not a simple summary of your research by any degree, but needs to conclude concisely the main points that have been unearthed and what they mean for your chosen field of study. Be sure to highlight significant contributions and noteworthy outcomes from the research findings.


This critical section of the dissertation needs to be organized, exact and must include all of your references in the required referencing style outlined in your university’s referencing guidelines.

As you add to and edit your dissertation you will probably gain and lose references that you had in earlier document versions. With this in mind, it will be advantageous to version control your documents up until completion (dissertation_v1.1.docx). It is vital to check that all the references contained in your dissertation are referenced accurately within the reference or bibliography section. From my personal experiences, I always checked to see if I could find every reference in the bibliography in the main body of the dissertation this means that you can locate any missing references and add them without running the risk of plagiarism. It is important that you reference all material used, I cannot stress this enough.

Click the link to read further information about dissertation referencing


This section of the dissertation is very useful indeed. Items that normally appear in the appendices are those that a reader would want to see, but which would take up too much space and disrupt the flow if placed within the main body of the research. You can add your supporting documentation such as research questionnaires, cover letters, statistics, list of acronyms and photographs. It is worthwhile finding out if the appendices count towards the final word limit for your dissertation, normally the appendices do not. Be sure to reference the appendices within the main body of the research where necessary.

Click the link to read further information about dissertation appendices

Dissertation Structure Tips

  • Below are some dissertation tips that have proved useful throughout my time spent in education, I am sure that some of the bullet points below will prove useful to you;
  • Write your research as you go along, do this on the fly. Inspiration comes when you have information fresh in your mind if you cannot do this; write it down on a piece of paper and revisit it in the future. There is nothing more frustrating than losing an inspirational moment.
  • It is advantageous to keep track of how your research ideas are developing and writing helps clarify your thought processes. This negates the need to cram in thousands of words at the end of your dissertation this would lead to an imbalanced research project.
  • As previously mentioned, you do not have to start with an introduction; I have always found it easier to write an introduction once I have completed subsequent chapters such as the literature review or methodology. Alternatively, you may prefer to write the introduction first, so you can get your ideas formulated from the outset. There is every chance that you will add to and edit the introduction at some point.
  • Think of each chapter as a mini research project in itself. Each chapter should have a clear and concise introduction and conclusion. Use the chapter conclusion to link back to the overall research question and theoretical linkages to previous chapters.
  • Imagine the main questions and hypotheses of your dissertation as a river, and each chapter is a stream feeding into this, there should be fluidity from start to finish, you do not want to tie the reader up in knots. The individual chapters will contain their own opinions, and go their own way, but they all contribute to the main flow of the research project. Remember that a good dissertation structure is important.
  • Don’t go off on a tangent and don’t create your own bespoke dissertation structure, this will count against you. Always refer to your university guidelines if you are unsure.

Creating a good dissertation structure requires extra time, effort and preparation. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Do you have any additional points that could be added to this post?

New Deal Liberalism

New Deal Liberalism – Destabilizing Corporate Power or Reviving Capitalism?

Introduction: The Beginning Stages of the New Deal Movement

Between 1933 and 1936, Franklin Delano Roosevelt created a series of policies that eventually inspired innovation and economic growth in the United States. His former interpretation of the New Deal Movement, however, was not likely a planned response to a serious economic downturn, one which affected America’s past and caused one of the most horrible economic depressions in United States history. Before it became a more structured idea, it existed as a hasty movement fueled by frantic desperation (Auerbach, 1969). In his text, Auerbach likens this historical movement to a bandaid used after emergency surgery, as a means of depicting how rushed this movement truly was. While this movement was vaguely inspired by the age of enlightenment, it was based very loosely on individualistic principles of free speech, and the notions of unalienable rights. But conceptually speaking, it could not be easily defined.

Working class individuals were grappling greater levels of power in both their professional lives and in the political realm. As noted by Cohen, they formed the New Democratic Coalition, “To promote a notion of government that protected the well-being of ordinary Americans,”ensuring a more “activist federal government” (Cohen, Making a New Deal, pg 3). The new role of government now entailed supporting the welfare state (Cohen, Making a New Deal, pg 3). There was a transference in goals from the concept of capitalism, to that of the welfare state. (Cohen, Making a New Deal, 8). Mass consumption became an ordinary fixture in American life, and was most notably observed during the post war era of America, as well (Cohen, Making a New Deal,113).

It was based on a few, central beliefs, such as the goals of relief, recovery and reform (Berkin, 2011). Relief for impoverished and unemployed citizens, recovery of the ailing economy, and the reform of the country’s checkered financial infrastructure. As noted by Cohen, there were numerous religious and ethnic organizations that catered to the poor and homeless, exhausting their financial esources with free soup kitchens (Cohen, p 220). The power of the Democratic party increased (Cohen, p 3), and they exercised a frontal assault on previously touted corporate and capitalistic norms. Once again, the working class population unionized, demanded more rights, and gained more political power in the Democratic party (Cohen, Making a New Deal, pg. 3). Careworn skeptics were against this movement in its earliest stages, etching a major division throughout the nation, dividing conservative Republicans and liberals.

Liberals were forced to change beliefs and convictions once firmly held by society. The original ideas that gave rise to the New Deal Liberalism were gradually changed, along with the societal landscape of the time. These ideas, which sprouted from the very depths of the Great Depression and World War II, were eventually replaced by more fitting ones, ones which were more adapted to the growing bureaucracy of the time. Hence, a consumer-centric economy became the principal focus of the “New Deal Liberalism” economy created by FDR and Congress at the time. As expressed in Cohen’s introduction of making a New Deal, mass production became very common as well. While entrepreneurs and businesses had initially achieved prominence in the nation, consumers began to gain more power and mass production became more common. Furthermore, the working class became militant in their efforts to reclaim control, which is a concept frequently highlighted by Cohen.

The Elusive Meaning of New Deal Liberalism

Many contenders battered this principle with ridicule, deeming it awash of substance and an identifiable concept. Lacking organization, it left many baffled and unable to truly define and grasp what New Deal Liberalism truly was. While the notion of New Deal Liberalism remains fairly unclear for some, it once conveyed the lessening of corporate and capitalistic control, and the deference of power and influence to the consumer and governmental agencies (Alexander Hicks). This differs markedly from its initial definition, as it now promoted the enactment of infrastructure and social welfare programs. The welfare state was now growing in increasing popularity (Cohen, 3). The dispersion of economic power became the primary concern in latter models of the New Deal Liberalism movement. While the New Deal Liberalism movement developed into a vaguely delineated program, it burgeoned idealistically into a more tangible concept, one that would ultimately be defined as a consumer focused society predicated on the beliefs of social equality. For example, Cohen discusses how an idea sprouted into unions, welfare programs, political protests, and cooperation among working class individuals of all ethnicities.

Utilizing the tools of an operative, state apparatus, liberals were able to fine tune the principal role of the government, as an entity responsible for the social welfare of its peoples. In the context of the New Deal Movement, the federal government gained more control, and Democratic, working class liberals advocate welfare programs, which benefited the impoverished (Cohen 3, 220). Many of the nation’s greatest struggles were attributed to capitalism, and the government’s preeminent role was to revise any flaws perpetuated by this capitalistic structure. They envisioned a redistribution of wealth and income that would stabilize in the nation. Even staunch proponents of corporatist ideals wished to buffer the control exercised by capitalists and corporations at this time

The Evolution of New Deal Liberalism

Towards the end of 1937, New Deal Liberalism as movement began to wane, and it gradually and decisively evolved into ideological rationales based less on political discourse, and more on social welfare. This idea, however, should be noted not as a fact, but as a conclusion based on the events that transpired during this era. For example, while many militant liberals formerly opposed capitlism, these anti-business sentiments eventually dissolved. This may be a result of America’s ideas about individualism. Som even argue that the social welfare state did not last and that leftist activism was strictly discouraged. Jefferson Cowie and Nick Salvatore argued this point, reminding readers that the welfare state would disappear if conservatives gained power (Cowie and Salvatore, 2008). The transmutation of this idea occurred with many gradually accumulating, miniscule changes that were imperceptible to liberals at the time. By 1945, this idea had matured markedly.

Factors Contributing To the Evolution of New Deal Liberalism

The pre and post war era was reshaped and molded by a slew of converging factors. Urbanization was beginning to proliferate throughout the nation, and this aided the maturation of these ideas. Factories and other industrial jobs were growin in popularity, and working class individuals took on these opportunities, as described in many of Cohen’s narratives in making a New Deal (Cohen, making a new deal). A waning level of power and influence was noted among merchants, capitalists, etc. In this world of destabilizing control, bureaucracies ascended the rankings, and governmental agencies enveloped the sources of power once reserved for the corporate world. Once again, Cohen touches upon this idea by highlighting the formation of federal government powers (Cohen, Making a New Deal, pg. 3). Furthermore, these ideas evolved as consumers grappled increasing levels of political and public control. The exceptionally wide range of ideas that defined New Deal Liberalism were often marked as a master class of obfuscation, with very little clarity. Both Alvin Hansen and Richard Hofstader proved that they were not uncritical defenders of this idea (Cowie and Salvatore, 2008). Instead, they repeatedly cite their apparent confusion with what this idea truly encapsulated. But as years progressed, social welfare and economic reform became the most predominant ideals of this movement (Cohen, Making a New Deal, 3).

New Deal Liberalism
New Deal Liberalism

Conflicting Definitions of New World Liberalism

Many fiercely competing belief systems detracted from the overall coherence of this idea. This concept required some time to take a unified, coherent form. One particular sector of society comprised firm contenders against capitalism, whom attributed the nations problems to the centralized and potently concentrated power of the capitalistic economy and corporate structure. This fueled unionization among many working class groups (Cohen, Making a New Deal, 3). Other opposing parties upheld an alternative facet of New Deal Liberalism. Some offered compelling arguments to support the integration of governmental authority with control with the economy. Others proposed radical leaps of change, purporting that capitalism became obsolete after the events of the Great Depression, and that an entirely novel system was needed to fully restructure the country’s economy. However, many scholars have reflected back, calling this a form of communism or socialism. In The Age of Roosevelt: The Coming of the New Deal, 1933-1935, it is noted that Harold Lare led a communist movement, along with many other radicals at the time (Schlesinger, 1959). Hence, New Deal Liberalism was a dispersive movement that fragmented the population into varying directions. In spite of its conflicting framework, this idea did grow and develop over time into a more clear, and organized set of ideas.

A Communal, Consumer-centric Vision

There were major attempts to centralize and restore the equity of power in various facets of society as indicated by the leftist activism discussed (Cohen, 3). This emerged most notably in regional and agricultural planning, as noted by the Agricultural Adjustments Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Infrastructure projects, including bridges and irrigation systems, were a defining feature of the New Deal Movement. Furthermore, social welfare programs increased rapidly as this movement was developing. By 1945, this idea bore little resemblance to that of its earlier days. The initial opposition to capitalism dissolved. Instead, this latter model began to propose a inter-depedent framework comprising both state-level control and capitalism, in which the state would ameliorate capitalism’s flaws. The crux of this newly revised ideological model proposed the expansion of an all-encompassing welfare state. The anti-monopoly sentiment still pervaded the air of this time, but the efforts shifted to a differing type of reform. This new type of world view was based on Keynesian economic, which will be discussed.

The new model of New World Liberalism was one in which the corporate world and the social welfare efforts could coexist and manifest an economically healthy environment. Instead of penalizing the financially elite, these new liberals concocted a very different approach, deeming the government responsible for protecting the industrial world’s well being. Instead of merely reforming the economy, they believed it was necessary for the government to expand it as well. In essence, the newly proposed model of social welfare and reform would serve as a cultivating atmosphere in which corporations could grow steadily within the contextual framework of the society and economy. In essence, the government was expected to supply the capitalistic world with a nourishing element to help it flourish.

Focus switched from intruding into daily affairs, to the notion of Keynesianism, the concept that an individual state could regulate control of the economy without directly muting and curtailing control exercised by economic institutions (Sullivan, 2003). As New Deal Liberalism became reassembled into a more evolved format, it experienced a substantial period of change. The Roosevelt New Deal Liberalism was a disoriented stew of desperate ideas and attempts to repair the economy, as well as an impulsive prescription to the nation’s capitalistic flaws. However, the World War II period was met with significant changes to this concept. As time proceeded forth, Keynesian ideas were implemented, garnering increasing levels of support. It was only until the post war efforts that this formerly makeshift ideology was shaped in to a more decisive, precedent that would serve as a foundational pathway for future, liberal ideals.

Conclusion: The Lingering Effects of New World Liberalism

The administrative goals of Roosevelt were met with innumerable adaptations, which ultimately entered their final stage of maturation in the post-war effort. After the United States was stricken with the Great Depression, the government misdiagnosed the overarching issue that contributed to the nation’s economic incompetencies at the time. It seems that the cultural, societal and intellectual landscape, however, helped reshape and refine the convictions of this ideological model, until it was adapted to a more polished form. Initially, it was a convoluted stew of anti-capitalist ideas designed to penalize the corporatist agencies and elite. However, it eventually became a symbol of economic restructuring and reform, in which social welfare and capitalism worked inter-depedently to yield a more economically sound nation as a whole. And these liberal ideas became ingrained in countless social welfare movements that characterized the 20th century, including those pertaining to civil rights, health care, and social welfare.


Arthur M. Schlesinger. Jr. (1959) The Age of Roosevelt: The Coming of the New Deal, 1933-1935.Houghton Mifflin

Carol Berkin et al. (2011) Making America, Volume 2: A History of the United States: since 1865

David Von Drehle’s Triangle (2004)

Jefferson Cowie and Nick Salvatore, “The Lon Exception: Rethinking the Place of the New Deal in American History.”International Labor and Working Class History, (2008)

Jerold S. Auerbach, “New Deal, Old Deal, or Raw Deal: Some Thoughts On New Left Historiography.”Journal of Southern History (1969)

Liz Cohen’s Making a New Deal (2008)

Social Democracy and Welfare Capitalism: A Century of Income Security Politics by Alexander Hicks

Sullivan, Arthur; Steven M. Sheridan (2003) Economics: Principles in action. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall

What are your thoughts on New Deal Liberalism, do you think it destabilizes corporate power or helps revive capitalism? Please add your comments below. Thank you.

View Sociology Dissertations Here