On Writing Labour Law History: A Reconnaissance
21 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2017
Date Written: October 31, 2017
Labour law historians rarely write about the theoretical and methodological foundations of their discipline. In response to this state of affairs, this article adopts a reconnaissance strategy, which eschews any pretense at providing a synthesis or authoritative conclusions, but rather hopes to open up questions and paths of inquiry that may encourage others to also reflect on a neglected area of scholarship. It begins by documenting and reflecting on the implications of the fact that labour law history sits at the margins of many other disciplines, including labour history, legal history, labour law, industrial relations and law and society, but lacks a home of its own. It next presents a short historiography of the writing of labour law history, noting its varied and changing intellectual influences. Next the article notes some of the methodological consequences of different theoretical commitments and discusses briefly the possibilities opened up by computer technologies as revealed by two interesting projects that rely heavily on the construction of sophisticated data bases. Finally, the article reflects on the methodological challenges I have experienced in my current project on labour law’s recurring regulatory dilemmas and conclude with some thoughts on the contribution labour law history can make to our understanding of the dynamics that shape its current challenges.
Keywords: Labour Law, Labour Law History, Historiography, Methodology
JEL Classification: K00, K10, K31, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation