European Labor Aristocracies: Trade Unionism, the Hierarchy of Skill, and the Stratification of the Manual Working Class Before the First World War
Campus Verlag, 1985
353 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2013
Date Written: 1985
The notion of a labor aristocracy has been in circulation for more than 150 years. A term of opprobrium and praise in different political circles, it has never been the object of rigorous scrutiny. This study locates the concept within the various strands of class analysis. First, the book uncovers the roots of labor aristocracy in the political and socio-economic conditions prevailing in England in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Then it shows how this pre-Marxist intellectual background was filtered through the political economy of Marx and Engels. Finally, on the basis of a critical analysis of the immanent contradictions of this dominant Marxist tradition, it undertakes a comprehensive empirical analysis of the numerous indicators of a labor aristocracy in the major industrial societies of Europe before World War I.
Keywords: Labor aristocracy, trade unions, skill, working class stratification, Marxism
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