Sean H. Vanatta
Fields of Study: 20th Century US History, History of American Capitalism, Economic and Financial History
Advisor: Julian Zelizer
Sean Vanatta studies the development of American capitalism, with a particular interest in financial intermediation and regulatory policy. He received an MA in history from the University of Georgia, where he also received a BBA in marketing and BA in history. Since being at Princeton he has precepted for courses in the history of American capitalism and contemporary US history, and he is currently a fellow at the university's McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning.
His dissertation, "Constituting Credit Capitalism: The Political Economy of Bank Credit Cards in Postwar America," explores the development and growth of the bank credit card industry in the United States. It shows, first, how banks partnered with the state to build the legal and regulatory foundations necessary for the credit-card market to function. Then, it demonstrates how banks used mobile credit cards to undermine the nation's geographically structured bank-regulatory regime. Along the way, it tracks broadly the social, cultural, and economic implications of Americans' embrace of unsecured consumer credit within the increasingly unsettled political economy.