cover of book

Workers in Hard Times: A Long View of Economic Crises
edited by Leon Fink, Joseph A. McCartin, Joan Sangster and Joseph A. McCartin
University of Illinois Press, 2020
Paper: 978-0-252-08512-3 | Cloth: 978-0-252-03817-4 | eISBN: 978-0-252-09597-9
Library of Congress Classification HD4854.W597 2014
Dewey Decimal Classification 331.09

Seeking to historicize the 2007-2009 Great Recession, this volume of essays situates the current economic crisis and its impact on workers in the context of previous abrupt shifts in the modern-day capitalist marketplace. Contributors use examples from industrialized North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia to demonstrate how workers and states have responded to those shifts and to their disempowering effects on labor.

Since the Industrial Revolution, contributors argue, factors such as race, sex, and state intervention have mediated both the effect of economic depressions on workers' lives and workers' responses to those depressions. Contributors also posit a varying dynamic between political upheaval and economic crises, and between workers and the welfare state.

The volume ends with an examination of today's "Great Recession": its historical distinctiveness, its connection to neoliberalism, and its attendant expressions of worker status and agency around the world. A sobering conclusion lays out a likely future for workers--one not far removed from the instability and privation of the nineteenth century.

The essays in this volume offer up no easy solutions to the challenges facing today's workers. Nevertheless, they make clear that cogent historical thinking is crucial to understanding those challenges, and they push us toward a rethinking of the relationship between capital and labor, the waged and unwaged, and the employed and jobless.

Contributors are Sven Beckert, Sean Cadigan, Leon Fink, Alvin Finkel, Wendy Goldman, Gaetan Heroux, Joseph A. McCartin, David Montgomery, Edward Montgomery, Scott Reynolds Nelson, Melanie Nolan, Bryan D. Palmer, Joan Sangster, Judith Stein, Hilary Wainright, and Lu Zhang.

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