[Review of the Book 'Perspectives on American Labor History: The Problems of Synthesis']
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[Excerpt] Over the past two decades many claims have been made for what was once called the "new" labor history. Deeply influenced by European scholarship (especially by the British historian, E. P. Thompson) and by writings in cultural anthropology and sociology, this new history seemed to sweep all before it. In a tumble of discrete community studies and precise examinations of individual strikes lay the foundation of the new history's critique of the work of John K Commons and his associates, who had stressed an institutional analysis of labor's growth and development within a liberal, democratic capitalist society. In studying workers outside the labor movement, in exploring their cultures and values, and in asserting the presence of explicit class tension, these works proclaimed, collectively, a new era in the study of the American working class.
labor history; labor movement; worker rights; industrial relations
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