Studies of African economic development frequently focus on the daunting challenges the continent faces. From recurrent crises to ethnic conflicts and long-standing corruption, a raft of deep-rooted problems has led many to regard the continent as facing many hurdles to raise living standards. Yet Africa has made considerable progress in the past decade, with a GDP growth rate exceeding five percent in some regions. The African Successes series looks at recent improvements in living standards and other measures of development in many African countries with an eye toward identifying what shaped them and the extent to which lessons learned are transferable and can guide policy in other nations and at the international level.
The second volume in the series, African Successes: Human Capital turns the focus toward Africa’s human capital deficit, measured in terms of health and schooling. It offers a close look at the continent’s biggest challenges, including tropical disease and the spread of HIV.
Against Labor highlights the tenacious efforts by employers to organize themselves as a class to contest labor. Ranging across a spectrum of understudied issues, essayists explore employer anti-labor strategies and offer incisive portraits of people and organizations that aggressively opposed unions. Other contributors examine the anti-labor movement against a backdrop of larger forces, such as the intersection of race and ethnicity with anti-labor activity, and anti-unionism in the context of neoliberalism. Timely and revealing, Against Labor deepens our understanding of management history and employer activism and their metamorphic effects on workplace and society. Contributors: Michael Dennis, Elizabeth Esch, Rosemary Feurer, Dolores E. Janiewski, Thomas A. Klug, Chad Pearson, Peter Rachleff, David Roediger, Howard Stanger, and Robert Woodrum.
In The Age of Experiences, Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt examines how the advance of happiness science is impacting the economy, making possible new experience-products that really make people happy and help forward-looking businesses expand and develop new technologies. In today’s marketplace there is less interest in goods and services and more interest in buying and selling personal improvements and experiences. Hunnicutt traces how this historical shift in consumption to the “softer” technologies of happiness represents not only a change in the modern understanding of progress, but also a practical, economic transformation, profoundly shaping our work and the ordering of our life goals.
Based on incisive historical research, Hunnicutt demonstrates that we have begun to turn from material wealth to focus on the enrichment of our personal and social lives. The Age of Experiences shows how industry, technology, and the general public are just beginning to realize the potential of the new economy. Exploring the broader implications of this historical shift, Hunnicutt concludes that the new demand for experiences will result in the reduction of work time, the growth of jobs, and the regeneration of virtue—altogether an increasingly healthy public life.
At the turn of the century, Colorado's Cripple Creek District captured
the national imagination with the extraordinary wealth of its gold mines
and the unquestionable strength of the militant Western Federation of
In All That Glitters, Elizabeth Jameson tells the better-than-fiction
story of Cripple Creek, the scene in 1894 of one of radical labor's most
stunning victories and in 1903-4 of one of its most crushing defeats.
Jameson's sources include working-class oral histories, the Victor and
Cripple Creek Daily Press, published by thirty-four of the local
labor unions, and the 1900 manuscript census. She connects unions with
lodges and fraternal associations, ethnic identity, families, households,
and partisan politics. Through these ties, she probes the differences
in age, skill, gender, marital status, and ethnicity that strained working-class
unity and contributed to the fall of labor in Cripple Creek.
Jameson's book will be required reading for western, ethnic, and working-class
historians seeking an alternative interpretation of western mining struggles
that emphasizes class, gender, and multiple sources of social identity. A volume in the series The Working Class in American History, edited by David Brody, Alice Kessler-Harris, David Montgomery, and Sean Wilentz
In The Allure of Labor, Paulo Drinot rethinks the social politics of early-twentieth-century Peru. Arguing that industrialization was as much a cultural project as an economic one, he describes how intellectuals and policymakers came to believe that industrialization and a modern workforce would transform Peru into a civilized nation. Preoccupied with industrial progress but wary of the disruptive power of organized labor, these elites led the Peruvian state into new areas of regulation and social intervention designed to protect and improve the modern, efficient worker, whom they understood to be white or mestizo. Their thinking was shaped by racialized assumptions about work and workers inherited from the colonial era and inflected through scientific racism and positivism.
Although the vast majority of laboring peoples in Peru were indigenous, in the minds of social reformers indigeneity was not commensurable with labor: Indians could not be workers and were therefore excluded from the labor policies enacted in the 1920s and 1930s and, more generally, from elite conceptions of industrial progress. Drinot shows how the incommensurability of indigeneity with labor was expressed in the 1920 constitution, in specific labor policies, and in the activities of state agencies created to oversee collective bargaining and provide workers with affordable housing, inexpensive food, and social insurance. He argues that the racialized assumptions of the modernizing Peruvian state are reflected in the enduring inequalities of present-day Peru.
The U.S. labor market is the most laissez faire of any developed nation, with a weak social safety net and little government regulation compared to Europe or Japan. Some economists point to this hands-off approach as the source of America's low unemployment and high per-capita income. But the stagnant living standards and rising economic insecurity many Americans now face take some of the luster off the U.S. model. In America Works, noted economist Richard Freeman reveals how U.S. policies have created a labor market remarkable both for its dynamism and its disparities. America Works takes readers on a grand tour of America's exceptional labor market, comparing the economic institutions and performance of the United States to the economies of Europe and other wealthy countries. The U.S. economy has an impressive track record when it comes to job creation and productivity growth, but it isn't so good at reducing poverty or raising the wages of the average worker. Despite huge gains in productivity, most Americans are hardly better off than they were a generation ago. The median wage is actually lower now than in the early 1970s, and the poverty rate in 2005 was higher than in 1969. So why have the benefits of productivity growth been distributed so unevenly? One reason is that unions have been steadily declining in membership. In Europe, labor laws extend collective bargaining settlements to non-unionized firms. Because wage agreements in America only apply to firms where workers are unionized, American managers have discouraged unionization drives more aggressively. In addition, globalization and immigration have placed growing competitive pressure on American workers. And boards of directors appointed by CEOs have raised executive pay to astronomical levels. Freeman addresses these problems with a variety of proposals designed to maintain the vigor of the U.S. economy while spreading more of its benefits to working Americans. To maintain America's global competitive edge, Freeman calls for increased R&D spending and financial incentives for students pursuing graduate studies in science and engineering. To improve corporate governance, he advocates licensing individuals who serve on corporate boards. Freeman also makes the case for fostering worker associations outside of the confines of traditional unions and for establishing a federal agency to promote profit-sharing and employee ownership. Assessing the performance of the U.S. job market in light of other developed countries' recent history highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the free market model. Written with authoritative knowledge and incisive wit, America Works provides a compelling plan for how we can make markets work better for all Americans. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Centennial Series
Over a period of six years, at factory and warehouse, at the tavern across the road, in their homes and union meetings, on fishing trips and social outings, David Halle talked and listened to workers of an automated chemical plant in New Jersey's industrial heartland. He has emerged with an unusually comprehensive and convincingly realistic picture of blue-collar life in America. Throughout the book, Halle illustrates his analysis with excerpts of workers' views on everything from strikes, class consciousness, politics, job security, and toxic chemicals to marriage, betting on horses, God, home-ownership, drinking, adultery, the Super Bowl, and life after death. Halle challenges the stereotypes of the blue-collar mentality and argues that to understand American class consciousness we must shift our focus from the "working class" to be the "working man."
Mercier depicts the vibrant life of the smelter city at full steam, incorporating the candid, sometimes wry commentary of the locals ("the company furnished three pair of leather gloves . . . and all the arsenic [dust] you could eat"). She documents the early history of the town and the distinctive culture of cooperation and activism that residents fostered in the 1930s and 1940s. Ultimately, their solidarity and discontent with the company converged in the successful 1934 strike and sustained five decades of devoted unionism.
During the cold war years, Anacondans held to their communal values and to unions in the face of antilabor and anticommunist pressures, embracing an "alternative Americanism" that championed improved living standards for working people, rather than unlimited corporate power, as the best defense against communism. Mercier chronicles the bitter struggle between two rival unions--the anticommunist United Steelworkers of America and the red-tainted International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers--that undercut the town's labor solidarity in the postwar years. She also explores how gender definitions--especially the male breadwinner ideology and the limits placed on women's political, economic, and social roles--shaped the nature and outcome of labor struggles. Mercier carries her investigation through the closing of the smelter in 1980, covering debates over the environment and the community's transformation into a deindustrialized, nonunion town.
Underscoring the role of the community in molding working-class consciousness, Anaconda offers important insights about the changing nature of working-class culture and the real potential for collective action under the midday sun of American industrial capitalism.
• Choice 1988 Outstanding Academic Book
• Named one of the Best Business Books of 1988 by USA Today
A veteran reporter of American labor analyzes the spectacular and tragic collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s. John Hoerr’s account of these events stretches from the industrywide barganing failures of 1982 to the crippling work stoppage at USX (U.S. Steel) in 1986-87. He interviewed scores of steelworkers, company managers at all levels, and union officials, and was present at many of the crucial events he describes. Using historical flashbacks to the origins of the steel industry, particularly in the Monongahela Valley of southwestern Pennsylvania, he shows how an obsolete and adversarial relationship between management and labor made it impossible for the industry to adapt to shattering changes in the global economy.
In Archives of Labor Lori Merish establishes working-class women as significant actors within literary culture, dramatically redrawing the map of nineteenth-century US literary and cultural history. Delving into previously unexplored archives of working-class women's literature—from autobiographies, pamphlet novels, and theatrical melodrama to seduction tales and labor periodicals—Merish recovers working-class women's vital presence as writers and readers in the antebellum era. Her reading of texts by a diverse collection of factory workers, seamstresses, domestic workers, and prostitutes boldly challenges the purportedly masculine character of class dissent during this era. Whether addressing portrayals of white New England "factory girls," fictional accounts of African American domestic workers, or the first-person narratives of Mexican women working in the missions of Mexican California, Merish unsettles the traditional association of whiteness with the working class to document forms of cross-racial class identification and solidarity. In so doing, she restores the tradition of working women's class protest and dissent, shows how race and gender are central to class identity, and traces the ways working women understood themselves and were understood as workers and class subjects.
"In a much-needed intervention, Ric McIntyre recasts the debate about globalization and labor rights and speeds us to the heart of the matter: the battle between transnational corporations who distance themselves from responsibility for the fate of workers, and labor activists who seek to reestablish bonds of accountability and moral obligation. The stakes in this struggle are enormous, and Dr. McIntyre provides crucial insight into the economic and political dynamics that define it."
---Scott Nova, Executive Director, Worker Rights Consortium, Washington, DC
"This book presents an insightful, powerful corrective to the contemporary debate over worker rights. McIntyre identifies the limitations of thinking of worker rights as individualized human rights and challenges us instead to examine how rights are defined through conventional thinking and class interest. The product is rich and compelling: McIntyre's investigation demands of us that we be far more attentive to the contradictory effects of ‘rights talk.' I recommend this book enthusiastically to all those who advocate for a just economic order the world over."
---George DeMartino, Associate Professor of Political Economy, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver
"An important contribution to the interdisciplinary study of labor. McIntyre's book will challenge the debate over labor rights on all fronts."
---Michael Hillard, Professor of Economics, University of Southern Maine
"A timely examination of our modern 'sweating system' . . . essential reading for all workers who hope for greater dignity in the workplace and greater fairness in society."
---Janet Knoedler, Associate Professor of Economics, Bucknell University
"Ric McIntyre convincingly shows how local actions, regulations changes, and international norms can combine to establish collective rights for workers."
---Gilles Raveaud, Assistant Professor in Economics, University of Saint-Denis, France, and cofounder of the "post-autistic economics movement"
"An important, timely, and needed contribution to our understanding of worker rights."
---Patrick McHugh, Associate Professor of Management, George Washington University
"Workers of the world, unite!" Karl Marx's famous call to action still promises an effective means of winning human rights in the modern global economy, according to economist Richard P. McIntyre. Currently, the human rights movement insists upon a person's right to life, freedom, and material necessities. In democratic, industrial nations such as the United States, the movement focuses more specifically on a person's civil rights and equal opportunity.
The movement's victories since WWII have come at a cost, however. The emphasis on individual rights erodes collective rights---the rights that disadvantaged peoples need to assert their most basic human rights. This is particularly true for workers, McIntyre argues. By reintroducing Marxian and Institutional analysis, he reveals the class relations and power structures that determine the position of workers in the global economy. The best hope for achieving workers' rights, he concludes, lies in grassroots labor organizations that claim the right of association and collective bargaining.
At last, an economist offers a vision for human rights that takes both moral questions and class relations seriously.
Richard P. McIntyre is Director of the University Honors Program and Professor of Economics at the University of Rhode Island.
In The Ashio Riot of 1907, Nimura Kazuo explains why the workers at the Ashio copper mine—Japan’s largest mining concern and one of the largest such operations in the world—joined together for three days of rioting against the Furukawa Company in February 1907. Exploring an event in labor history unprecedented in the Japan of that time, Nimura uses this riot as a launching point to analyze the social, economic, and political structure of early industrial Japan. As such, The Ashio Riot of 1907 functions as a powerful critique of Japanese scholarly approaches to labor economics and social history. Arguing against the spontaneous resistance theory that has long dominated Japanese social history accounts, Nimura traces the laborers’ unrest prior to the riots as well as the development of the event itself. Drawing from such varied sources as governmental records, media reports, and secret legal documents relating to the riot, Nimura discusses the active role of the metal mining workers’ trade organization and the stance taken by mine labor bosses. He examines how technological development transformed labor-management relations and details the common characteristics of the laborers who were involved in the riot movement. In the course of this historical analysis, Nimura takes on some of the most influential critical perspectives on Japanese social and labor history. This translation of Nimura’s prize-winning study—originally published in Japan—contains a preface by Andrew Gordon and an introduction and prologue written especially for this edition.
Throughout the latter part of the 20th century, the U.S. labor market performed differently than the labor markets of the world's other advanced industrialized societies. In the early 1970s, the United States had higher unemployment rates than its Western European counterparts. But after two oil crises, rapid technological change, and globalization rocked the world's economies, unemployment fell in the United States, while increasing dramatically in other nations. At the same time, wage inequality widened more in the United States than in Europe. In At Home and Abroad, Cornell University economists Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn examine the reasons for these striking dissimilarities between the United States and its economic allies. Comparing countries, the authors find that governments and unions play a far greater role in the labor market in Europe than they do in the United States. It is much more difficult to lay off workers in Europe than in the United States, unemployment insurance is more generous in Europe, and many fewer Americans than Europeans are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Interventionist labor market institutions in Europe compress wages, thus contributing to the lower levels of wage inequality in the European Union than in the United States. Using a unique blend of microeconomic and microeconomic analyses, the authors assess how these differences affect wage and unemployment levels. In a lucid narrative, they present ample evidence that, as upheavals shook the global economy, the flexible U.S. market let wages adjust so that jobs could be maintained, while more rigid European economies maintained wages at the cost of losing jobs. By helping readers understand the relationship between different economic responses and outcomes, At Home and Abroad makes an invaluable contribution to the continuing debate about the role institutions can and should play in creating jobs and maintaining living standards.
Founded during World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was a vital link in the U.S. military’s atomic bomb assembly line—the site where scientists worked at a breakneck pace to turn tons of uranium into a few grams of the artificial element plutonium. To construct and operate the plants needed for this effort, thousands of workers, both skilled and unskilled, converged on the “city behind a fence” tucked between two ridges of sparsely populated farmland in the Tennessee hills.
At Work in the Atomic City explores the world of those workers and their efforts to form unions, create a community, and gain political rights over their city. It follows them from their arrival at Oak Ridge, to the places where they lived, and to their experiences in a dangerous and secretive workplace. Lured by promises of housing, plentiful work, and schooling for their children, they were often exposed to dangerous levels of radioactivity, harmful chemicals, and other hazards. Although scientists and doctors intended to protect workers, the pressure to produce materials for the bomb often overrode safety considerations. After the war, as the military sought to reduce services and jobs in Oak Ridge, workers organized unions at two plants to demand higher wages and job security. However, the new Taft-Hartley Act limited defense workers’ ability to strike and thus curbed union influence.
The book examines the ongoing debates over workers’ rights at Oak Ridge—notably the controversy surrounding the new federal program intended to compensate workers and their families for injuries sustained on the job. Because of faulty record keeping at the facilities and confusion over exposure levels, many have been denied payment to this day.
Drawing on extensive research into oral history collections, transcripts of government proceedings, and other primary sources, At Work in the Atomic City is the first detailed account of the workers who built and labored in the facilities that helped ensure the success of the Manhattan Project—a story known, heretofore, only in broad outline.