countervailing power A term first used by American economist John Kenneth Galbraith in American Capitalism: The Concept of Countervailing Power (1952) to describe one aspect of the power system in a mature capitalist democracy. In the theory of pluralism, powerful groups and interests maintain a rough balance, none being strong enough to dominate all the others. In mixed economies, Galbraith proposed that a similar balance of powers had superseded laissez-faire capitalism and pure market competition. Trade unions, consumer organizations, trade associations and government regulation formed a system of countervailing power against the monopolistic powers of big business (see MONOPOLY).
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