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Identity and Institutions: The Social Construction of Trade Unions in Nineteenth-Century Germany and the United States*

  • Gary Herrigel (a1)

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The aim of this research note is to begin to develop the idea that trade unions are historically constructed as much through considerations of social identity as they are through calculations of economic self-interest, market power, or functional adaptation in the face of changes in the division of labor. By social identity, I mean the desire for group distinction, dignity, and place within historically specific discourses (or frames of understanding) about the character, structure, and boundaries of the polity and the economy. Institutions such as trade unions, in other words, are constituted through and by particular understandings of the structure of the social and political worlds of which they are part. In making this argument, it should be immediately said that I in no way intend to claim that trade unions are only to be understood through the lens of identity or that they do not engage in strategic calculation either in labor markets or in the broader political economy. The point is that action along the latter lines presupposes some kind of commitment on, and even resolution of, issues concerning the former. The discussion below focuses on the emergence of trade union movements in the United States and Germany during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It Attempts first to develope the two cases as constituting a paradox and then, second, explains the paradox with an argument about identity.

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1. This is a trope of much literature on industrialization, both in the United States and Europe. In the U.S. case, two nicely paired works demonstrating the political range within the general view are Chandler, Alfred, The Visible Hand (Cambridge: Harvard/Belknap, 1977), and Sklar, Martin, The Corporate Reconstruction of American Capitalism, 1890–1916. The Market, The Law and Politics (New York: Cambridge, 1989). For Germany see the literature on “Organizierter Kapitalismus,” e.g., Winkler, H. A., ed., Organisierter Kapitalismus. Voraussetzungen und Anfaenge (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1972), as well as Kocka's, Juergen extensive essay: “Entrepreneurs and Managers in German Industrialization,” in Mathias, Peter and Postan, M. M., eds., The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, Volume VII, Part I (New York: Cambridge, 1978) 382441.

2. The broad lines in trade union development and class formation are presented, with more subtlety than my account in the text gives credit for, by Hobsbawm, Eric, “The Making of the Working Class, 1870–1914,” and “The ‘New Unionism» in Perspective,” in Hobsbawm, Eric, Workers: Worlds of Labor (New York: Pantheon, 1984). Standard works in the historiography of American trade unionism, or the American labor movement more broadly conceived, adopt this kind of characterization of the historical evolution of trade union structure: see, e.g., Brody, David, Workers in Industrial America: Essays in Twentieth Century Labor (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), or Montgomery, David, The Fall of the House of Labor (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986). A representative German work is Schoenhoven, Klaus, Expansion und Konzentration. Studien zur Entwicklung der Freien Gewerkschaften im Wilhelmmischen Deutschland 1890–1914 (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1980). Kocka's, Juergen “Problems of Working Class Formation in Germany: The Early Years, 1800–1875,” in Katznelson, Ira and Zolberg, Aristide, eds., Working Class Formation. Nineteenth-Century Patterns in Western Europe and the United States (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), represents the view developed in the text for the earlier period.

3. For a methodological discussion of the range of explanations within such views, see Unger, Roberto, Social Theory: Its Situation and Its Task (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987).

4. Generally on these newer views, see the essays in Evans, Peter, Rueschemeyer, Dietrich, and Skocpol, Theda, eds., Bringing the State Back In (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), and in Katznelson, Ira and Zolberg, Aristide, eds., Working Class Formation. Nineteenth Century Patterns in Western Europe and the United States (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986). On the United States, see, for example, Skowronek, Stephen, Building a New American State (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982); Forbath, William, Law and the Shaping of the American Labor Movement (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), and Fink, Leon, Workingmen's Democracy: The Knights of Labor and American Politics (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983). For a survey of this kind of literature in the German case, see Eley, Geoff and Blackbourn, David, The Peculiarities of German History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), and Breuilly, John, Labour and Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Essays in Comparative History (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992).

5. See the rich account along these lines in Wilentz, Sean, Chants Democratic. New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788–1850 (New York: Oxford, 1984), chapters 1, 3, and 6.

6. Cf. Montgomery, David, Workers Control in America (New York: Cambridge, 1979), and Montgomery, The Fall of the House of Labor, op. cit. On the general transformation of nineteenth-century American production processes and labor markets that Montgomery and others elaborate, see Gordon, David, Edwards, Richard, and Reich, Michael, Segmented Work, Divided Workers. The Historical Transformation of Labor in the United States (New York: Cambridge, 1982).

7. For an interesting contemporary account, very much in the frame being developed, see Glocker, Theodore W., “Amalgamation of Related Trades in American Unions,” American Economic Review, 5 (1915): 554575.

8. Dunlop, John, “The Changing Status of Labor,” in Williamson, Harold F., ed., The Growth of the American Economy (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1944), 607632; Brody, David, “The Emergence of Mass Production Unionism,” in idem, Workers in Industrial America. Essays in 20th Century Struggle (New York: Oxford, 1980), 82119.

9. Eisenberg, Christiane, Deutsche und englische Gewerkschaften (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986).

10. See Kocka's, Juergen account of early trade union formation and the sources he cites there in “Problems of Working-Class Formation in Germany: The Early Years, 1800–1875,” in Katznelson, Ira and Zolberg, Aristide, eds., Working Class Formation, Nineteenth-Century Patterns in Western Europe and the United States (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 330ff.

11. Ibid., p. 338.

12. The diffusion of the factory and large-scale enterprise in the later half of the nineteenth century in Germany is outlined in Kocka's, Juergen “Entrepreneurs and Managers in German Industrialization,” in Mathias, Peter and Postan, MM, eds., The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, Volume VII, Part I (New York: Cambridge, 1978), 382441. Most accounts interpret the continued existence of small producers within a “dualist” framework in which small producers are understood to be backward, more fragile, and less technologically sophisticated than producers in the large firm, or core, sector of the economy. The classic “dualist” statement on the fate of small producers in German industrialization is Fischer, Wolfram, “Die Rolle des Kleingewerbes im wirtschaftlichen Wachstumsprozess in Deutschland 1850–1914,” in Luetge, Friedrich, ed., Wirtschaftliche und soziale Probleme der gewerblichen Entwicklung im 15.–16. und 19. Jahrhundert (Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer Verlag, 1968), 131143.

13. On the time during the antisocialist law, see Ritter, Gerhard A. and Tenfelde, Klaus, “Der Durchbruch der Freien Gewerkschaften Deutschlands zur Massenbewegung im letzten Viertel des 19.Jahrhunderts” in Vetter, Heinz Oskar, ed., Vom Sozialistengesetz zur Mitbestimmung (Koeln: Bund Verlag, 1975), 61120, esp. 69–88. On the organizational structure of the German “Free Trade Unions” after 1890, see Schoenhoven, Klaus, Expansion und Konzentration. Studien zur Entwicklung der Freien Gewerkschaften im Wilhelminischen Deutschalnd 1890 bis 1914 (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1980), esp. 306330.

14. Schoenhoven, ibid. See also his “Localism—Craft Union—Industrial Union: Organizational Patterns in German Trade Unionism,” in Mommsen, Wolfgang J. and Husung, Hans-Gerhard, eds., The Development of Trade Unionism in Great Britain and Germany, 1880–1914 (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1985), 219238. On the strength of employers' associations as an encouragement for industrial unions, see , Schoenhoven, Die deutschm Gewerkschaften, (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1987), 8594, and Wende, Alexander, Die Konzentrationsbewegung bei den deutschen Gewerkschaften (Marburg: dissertation, 1913).

15. For the Perlman argument, see Perlman, Selig, A Theory of the Labor Movement (New York: MacMillian, 1928), 182200. For Ulman's subtle argument (one which seems to work much better for the IWW) see Ulman, Lloyd, The Rise of the National Trade Union (Cambridge MA: Harvard, 1955), 374377.

16. Specifically on the Knights' collapse, see Voss, Kim, “Disposition is Not Action: The Rise and Demise of the Knights of Labor,” in Studies in American Political Development 6 (fall 1992): 272321. For a sprawling argument on the important role of employers in undermining American trade union efforts, in general, see Jacoby, Sanford, “American Exceptionalism Revisited: The Importance of Management” in idem., ed., Masters to Managers. Historical and Comparative Perspectives on American employers (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 173200. For an argument about the shaping influence of the courts, see Forbath, William, Law and the Shaping of the American Labor Movement (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), esp. 6879, 94–97.

17. On the relative severity of German labor law on collective bargaining and union organization, see the early essays of Hugo Sinzheimer, in Sinzheimer, Hugo, Arbeitsrecht und Rechtssoziologie. Gesammelte Aufsaetze und Reden, Band 1 (Frankfurt: Europaische Verlagsanstalt, 1976); Ramm, Thilo, “The German Law of Collective Agreements,” in Kahn-Freund, Otto, ed., Labour Relations and the Law: A Comparative Study (London: 1965) pages 8491; Kahn-Freund, Otto, Labour Law and Politics in the Weimar Republic (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1981).

18. See Schoenhoven, Expansion und Konzentration, op. cit., pp. 91–149. The industrial structure of these regions of trade union strength (Saxony, the Rhineland, Wuerttemberg, Baden, and Hesse) is outlined in chapter 2 of my book manuscript, Reconceptualizing The Sources of German Industrial Power (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

19. Domansky-Davidsohn, Elizabeth, “Der Grossbetrieb als Organisationsproblem des Deutschen Metallarbeiter-Verbandes vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg,” in Mommsen, Hans, ed., Arbeiterbewegung und industrieller Wandel. Studien zu gewerkschaftlichen Organisationsproblemen im Reich und an der Ruhr (Wuppertal: Peter Hammer Verlag, 1980), 95116.

20. This is the way that I understand the work of Unger, Roberto, False Necessity Anti-Necessitarian Social Theory in the Service of Radical Democracy (New York: Cambridge, 1988); Piore, Michael and Sabel, Charles F., The Second Industrial Divide. Possibilities for Prosperity (New York: Basic Books, 1984); and Sabel, CharlesWork and Politics (New York: Cambridge, 1982). There are also strong affinities between the analysis I present below and the work of Bourdieu, Pierre, in particular his “Social Space and the Genesis of ‘Classes’” in idem., Language and Symbolic Power, Thompson, John, ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), 229251, and more generally, part III of that same book, pp. 163–251. Two other traditions also adopt the reversal suggested in the text, but make different kinds of claims about knowledge, causality, and agency than the ones the above tradition advances. Here I have in mind, on the one hand, the “new institutionalism” in organization theory—e.g., DiMaggio, Paul and Powell, Walter, eds., The New Institutionalism in Organization Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), and Thomas, George, Meyer, John, Ramierez, Franscisco, and Boli, John, Institutional Structure: Constituting State, Society and the Individual (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1987). On the other hand, there is post-structuralism, e.g. Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage, 1979) and more directly relevant, Scott, Joan W., Gender and the Politics of History (New York: (Columbia University Press, 1988).

21. For general theoretical discussions of European and American industrialization in this way see the essays by Sabel, Charles and Zeitlin, Jonathan, “Historical Alternatives to Mass Production: Politics, Markets and Technology in Nineteenth-Century Industrialization,” in Past and Present 108 (08 1985): 133174, and Sabel and Zeitlin, “Stories, Strategies and Structures: Rethinking Historical Alternatives to Mass Production,” in idem and idem eds., Worlds of Possibility: Flexibility and Mass Production in Western Industrialization (volume prepared under the auspices of the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, forthcoming).

22. For a discussion of alternatives to the large-scale corporation in the United States, see Berk, Gerald, “Constituting Corporations and Markets: Railroads in Gilded Age Politics,” in Studies in American Political Development 4 (1990): 130168, and Herrigel, Gary, “Industry as a Form of Order: A Comparison of the Historical Development of the Machine Tool Industry in the United States and Germany,” in Streeck, Wolfgang, Schmitter, Philippe, and Hollingsworth, J. Rogers, eds., Comparing Capitalist Economies: Variation in the Governance of Sectors (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). On decentralized industrialization in Germany, see my forthcoming book, Reconceptualizing the Sources of German Industrial Power (Cambridge University Press). On Denmark, see Charles Sabel and Peer Hull Christianson, “Denmark” in Sabel and Zeitlin, eds., Worlds of Possibility, ibid.

23. A nice description of this kind of economy in eighteenth-century America is presented in the first chapter of Wilentz's, SeanChants Democratic (New York: Oxford, 1984). A case study of one such German artisan economy is Wiest, Ekkard: Die Entwicklung des Nuernberger Gewerbes zwischen 1648–1806 (Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer Verlag, 1968).

24. On the transition from precapitalist to capitalist artisan economy in the United States, see Wilentz, ibid., and David Gordon, Richard Edwards, and Michael Reich, Segmented Work, Divided Workers, op. cit., pp. 48–99; for the same transition in Germany, see my Reconceptualizing the Sources of German Industrial Power, op. cit., chapters 2 and 3.

25. Wilentz, op. cit., especially chapters 6 and 7, makes this clear. Victoria Hattam's discussion of early trade union battles in the antebellum United States makes an instructive critique of Wilentz's conceptualization of the journeymen's position in society and underscores the broadly political character of trade union rhetoric of the period; see Hattam, , Labor Visions and State Power. The Origins of Business Unionism in the United States (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 76111. On early German trade unions, see Engelhardt, Ulrich, ‘Nur vereinigt sind wir stark’ Die Anfaenge der deutschen Gewerkschaflsbewegung 1862/63 bis 1869/70 (Stuttgart, Klett-Cotta 1977). See also the interesting essays by John Breuilly, Labour and Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century Europe (op. cit.,)—especially, “The Artisan Economy, Ideology and Politics: The Artisan Contribution to the Mid-Nineteenth-Century European Labour Movement” and “Liberalism or Social Democracy? Britain and Germany, 1850–1875,” pp. 76–159.

26. See, again, Wilentz Chants Democratic, chapter 6; and Kocka, pp. 330ff.

27. This bifurcation in the debate is brought out clearly in Hattam's work; see Labor Visions and State Power, op. cit., pp. 112–179. My own book, Reconceptualizing the Sources of German Industrial Power, op. cit., chapters 2–4, develops an analogous range of alternatives in Germany.

28. For my view of nineteenth-century German industrialization, see Reconceptualizing The Sources of German Industrial Power, op. cit., chapters 2–4. For the struggle between alternatives in the United States, in addition to Berk, “Constituting Corporations and Markets,” op. cit., see Sklar, Martin, The Corporate Reconstruction of American Capitalism, 1890–1916 (New York: Cambridge, 1989), Scranton, Philip, Proprietary Capitalism (Philadelphia: Temple, 1984), Livingston, James, Origins of the Federal Reserve System. Money, Class and Corporate Capitalism, 1890–1913 (Ithaca: Cornell, 1986).

29. See Vicky Hattam's discussion of the KOL from this point of view in Labor Visions and State Power, op. cit. A good overview of the KOL's general ideology is presented in the first two chapters of Fink's, LeonWorkingmen's Democracy (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983). On Lassallean Socialism see Dawson, William Harbutt, German Socialism and Ferdinand Lassalle (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1891); Bernstein, Edward, Ferdinand Lassalle as a Social Reformer (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1893); Na'aman, S., “Lassalle—Demokratie und Sozialdemokratie,” in Archiv fuer Sozialgeschichte 3 (1963).

30. On Gomper's roots in Marxian conceptions of the social role of trade unions in a developing capitalist society, see the excellent introduction to Gomper's autobiography by Salvatore, Nick, “Introduction,” in Gompers, Samuel, Seventy Years of Life and Labor. An Autobiography (Ithaca: ILR Press, 1925), xi–xli, and also Kaufman, Stuart Bruce, Samuel Gompers and the Origins of the American Federation of Labor, 1848–1896 (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 1973), and Gitelman, H. M., “Adolph Strasser and the Origins of Pure and Simple Trade Unionism,” in Leab, Daniel J., ed., The Labor History Reader (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985), 153165. On the divide between revolutionary ideology and reformist practice in pre–World War I German social democracy one can still do little better than Schorske, Carl E., German Social Democracy, 1905–1917 (Cambridge MA: Harvard, 1955). Schorske is particularly good on the importance of the trade unions in the basically dominant reformist faction. Nolan's, Mary essay, “Economic Crisis, State Policy and Working Class Formation in Germany, 1870–1900,” in Katznelson, Ira and Zolberg, Aristide, eds., Working Class Formation (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 352397, makes the point quite explicitly that the German Social Democrats did not pursue any policies in parliament that aimed at changing the basic institutional structures of the Reich in any way.

31. For a discussion of this with examples, see chapter 2 of my manuscript The Sources of German Industrial Power.

32. An excellent discussion of the Mittelstand sensitive to this dimension is Blackbourn, David, “The Mittelstand in German Society and Politics, 1871–1914,” Social History 4 (01 1977): 409433. The standard work on the politics of the lower middle classes (including the artisanate) in modern German history is Winkler, Heinrich August, Liberalismus und Antiliberalismus. Studien zur politischen Sozialgeschichte des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979).

33. Cf. Bourdieu:

If the objective relations of power tend to reproduce them-selves in visions of the social world which contribute to the permanence of those relations, this is therefore because the structuring principles of the world view are rooted in the objective structures of the social world and because the relations of power are also present in people's minds in the form of categories of perception of those relations. But the degree of indeterminacy and vagueness characteristic of the objects of the social world is, together with the practical, prereflexive and implicit character of the patterns of perception and evaluation which are applied to them, the Archimedean point which is objectively made available to truly political action. Knowledge of the social world and, more precisely, the categories which make it possible, are the stakes par excellence of the political struggle, a struggle which is inseparably theoretical and practical, over the power of preserving or transforming the social world by preserving or transforming the categories of perception of that world, (in “Social Space and the Genesis of ‘Classes’,” in idem, Language and Symbolic Power, op. cit. pp. 235–236)

34. Kocka treats this specific kind of evolution as the general one in his article, “Problems of Working Class Formation in Germany,” in Katznelson and Zolberg, eds., Working Class Formation, op. cit., pp. 338–339. See also his general article on the emergence of entrepreneurs in German industrialization: Kocka, Juergen, “Entrepreneurs and Managers in German Industrialization,” in Mathias, Peter and Postan, M. M., eds., The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, Vol. VII (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978).

35. Much of the following uses the analysis that Boch gives in “Zunfttradition und fruehe Gewerkschaftsbewegung. Ein Beitrag zu einer beginnenden Diskussion mit besonderer Beruecksichtigung des Handwerks im Verlagssystem,” in Wengenroth, Ulrich, Prekaere Selbstaendigkeit. Zur Standortbestimmung von Handwerk, Hausindustrie und Kleingewerbe im Industrialisierungsprozess (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1989), 3770.

36. Cf. Boch, ibid.

37. On the cutlery workers in Solingen, see Boch's, fabulous book, Handwerkersozialisten gegen Fabrikgesellschaft (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1985). Boch's book is about the conflict that developed between the craft unions of the putting-out tradesmen and the industrial unions of the factory cutlery workers during the first quarter of the twentieth century. The experience of the printing trades is a favorite example of most students of the labor movement interested in the creation of national unions because they were the first. See the discussion in Swensen, Peter, Fair Shares (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989), and Marks, Gary, Unions in Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989). The printers' union is always characterized as an industrial union, because it organized the entire industry. But in many ways there is alot of anachronism in that characterization for most of the nineteenth century because the organized craft was basically the organized industry. The distinction between craft union and industrial union is inappropriate for the case. See remarks above.

38. See Kocka, “Problems pf Working Class Formation in Germany,” p. 341.

39. See Boch's rich discussion of the conflicts between the two kinds of worker identities in Solingen in his Handwerkersozialisten gegen Fabnkgesellschaft, op. cit. To avoid confusion it is important to note that though there were no large conflicts over the idea of an industrial union in Germany beyond the conflict with the Fachvereine, there were many intra- and interunion conflicts during the 1890s and early twentieth century. In particular, there was tremendous debate over the creation of centralized national union structures. Localists were very strong during the 1890s. But, here again, even the localists had no problem with the formation industrial unions. See Schoenhoven, Expansion und Konzentration, op. cit.

40. See the discussion of artisanal republicanism in Wilentz, Chants Democratic, op. cit., and esp. Hattam, Labor Visions and State Power, op. cit., chapter 3.

41. Sklar, Judith makes the connection between skill and citizenship in American Citizenship. The Quest for Inclusion (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1991). This is also an important theme in Foner, Eric, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men. The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970).

42. On the fate of black artisans and their exclusion from white trade unions, see Dubois, W. E. B., The Negro Artisan (Atlanta: Atlanta University Press, 1902), which provides statistics on the progressive decline in their numbers after reconstruction. See also Baron, Harold M., “The Demand for Black Labor: Historical Notes on the Political Economy of Racism,” Radical America 5 No. 2 (0304 1971). On the hostility of the AFL unions to immigrants, see Salvatore's introduction to Gompers, Seventy Five Years of Life and Labor, op. cit., and Mink, Gwendolyn, Old Labor and New Immigrants in American Political Development: Union, Party and State, 1875–1920 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986).

43. For a good outline of the producers' vision of industrialization, see the discussion in Hattam, Labor Visions and State Power, op. cit., pp. 122–129.

44. I thank Kim Voss for suggesting this general argument to me.

45. Averich, Paul, The Haymarket Tragedy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), pp. 215240 and passim.

46. See the interesting discussion of the early years of the machinist's union in Atlanta in Perlman, Mark, The Machinists: A New Study in American Trade Unionism, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961). The craft union was founded by former Knights who felt that their reputations would be tarnished by further associations with the order. The craft union they formed excluded all unskilled, all other crafts, and all black workers.

47. This is the message of Forbath, Law and the Shaping of the American Labor Movement, op. cit., though he doesn't appreciate the dimension of social identity that I am emphasizing. Hattam's, Labor Visions and State Power, op. cit., makes an argument that in some respects parallels Forbath's, but her argument is much more nuanced on identity questions.

48. On racism and late-nineteenth-century AFL unions, see Karson, Mark and Radosh, Ronald, “The American Federation of Labor and the Negro Worker, 1894–1949,” in Jacobson, Julius, ed., The Negro and the American Labor Movement (New York: Anchor Books, 1968), 155187. On the general increase of racism in late-nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American political discourse, in all areas of social, political and economic life, see Carol Horton, Race, Liberalism and American Political Culture, Ph.D. dissertation (in progress), Department of Political Science, University of Chicago.

49. See Salvatore's Introduction to Gomper's autobiography, Seventy Years of Life and Labor, op. cit., pp. xxxii–xxxvii, as well as relevant sections of autobiography itself. See also Mink, Old Labor and New Immigrants in American Political Development, op. cit.

50. For some who address problems of American trade unions from this perspective, see Michael Piore, “Post-Reaganomics: The Resurgence of the Social Sphere in Economic and Political Life? Part One,” MIT Center for International Affairs, Working Paper Series, January 1989, and Harris, Alice Kessler and Sliverman, Bertram, “Beyond Industrial Unionism. Into Politics, Into Communities,” Dissent (Winter 1992): 6166. English-language literature on similar processes within European unions is very noticeably meager. One partial exception is Kern, Horst and Sabel, Charles, “Trade Unions and Decentralized Production: A Sketch of Strategic Problems in the West German Labor Movement,” Politics and Society 19 No. 4 (1991): 373402.

* This research note was originally prepared for the conference “The Shifting Boundaries of Labor Politics: New Directions for Comparative Research and Theory” at the Center for European Studies, Harvard University, March 12–14, 1993. Some future version of it is likely to appear in an edited volume associated with that conference. I would like to thank the editors of this journal and the following colleagues and friends for comments on earlier drafts: Lisa Bower, Michael Dawson, Vicky Hattam, Carol Horton, Richard Locke, Jeffrey Seitzer, George Steinmetz, Katherine Stone, Lowell Turner, Kim Voss, Jonathan Zeitlin, and the Wilder House workshops on Organization Theory and State-Building and on Comparative Politics and Historical Sociology at the University of Chicago.

Identity and Institutions: The Social Construction of Trade Unions in Nineteenth-Century Germany and the United States*

  • Gary Herrigel (a1)

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