The Semiotics of Labor Law, Trade Unions and Work in East Asia: International 'Labor Standards' in the Mirror of Culture?
Harry G. Hutchison
George Mason University - School of Law; Oxford Centre for the Study of Law & Public Policy
Emory International Law Review, Forthcoming
This review essay looks at Vai Io Lo's book, Law and Industrial Relations: China and Japan after World War II (Kluwer) as an initial starting point for a conversation about largely western attempts to impose "basic labor rights" which some see as a fundamental human and civil right on countries which fail to share western culture and perhaps western cultural values.
The author examines the cultural background of both Japan and China, the notion of culture itself derived at least in part from the insights of Terry Eagleton and the conclusive skepticism of Jacques Elllul about the notion of human progress to challenge the prevailing conventional wisdom about the necessity of international labor standards. The author argues that labor standards, however desirable, may simply be a highly contingent principle that suits the preferences of those who disagree with the labor policies of other countries. Perforce, the failure of Japan and China to fully embrace western labor standards is not only laudable, but may in the light of their culture be justifiable.
Note: This is a description of the paper and not the actual abstract.
JEL Classification: K1, K3, J4
Date posted: May 4, 2001
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