Social Isolation and American Workers: Employee Blogging and Legal Reform
University of Missouri School of Law
Texas A&M University - Department of Management
U of Cincinnati Public Law Research Paper No. 05-26
This Article examines the increasing "social isolation" of American workers and the role the Internet, particularly employee "blogging," can potentially play in ameliorating this situation. It builds on a path-breaking June 2006 empirical study in the American Sociological Review documenting said social isolation, and on Harvard political scientist Robert D. Putnam's classic theoretical work developing a similar theme. The Article argues that off-duty blogging by employees can play an important role in helping reverse this decline in social isolation, but that current legal structures impede this goal. This Article then proposes various reforms to address this situation.
We begin Part I by examining the general role employee blogging might have as an antidote for the increasing social isolation facing American workers. Part II then presents a review of blogs and the blogging phenomenon. Part III follows with a discussion of blogs in the context of the recent afore-mentioned scholarship in the American Sociological Review and Professor Putnam's classic work. Part IV more specifically analyzes the role blogs play in the employment context, and Part V examines the protections afforded employee bloggers under the National Labor Relations Act. Part VI then looks at this issue in the context of both state common and statutory law. In Parts VII and VIII we evaluate various options for legal reform in the area. Part IX concludes the article.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 71
Keywords: Employee Blogging, social isolation, social capital
JEL Classification: K31
Date posted: September 1, 2005