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Forces of Labor


  • 8 b/w illus. 5 tables
  • Page extent: 260 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.55 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: n/a
  • Dewey version: n/a
  • LC Classification: HD4851 .S55 2003
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Labor movement--History
    • Labor disputes--History
    • Capitalism--History
    • Globalization--Economic aspects--History
    • Business relocation--History

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521817516 | ISBN-10: 052181751X)

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$68.00 (P)

Recasting labor studies in a long-term and global framework, the book draws on a major new database on world labor unrest to show how local labor movements have been related to world-scale political, economic, and social processes since the late nineteenth century. Through an in-depth empirical analysis of select global industries, the book demonstrates how the main locations of labor unrest have shifted from country to country together with shifts in the geographical location of production. It shows how the main sites of labor unrest have shifted over time together with the rise or decline of new leading sectors of capitalist development and demonstrates that labor movements have been deeply embedded (as both cause and effect) in world political dynamics. Over the history of the modern labor movement, the book isolates what is truly novel about the contemporary global crisis of labor movements. Arguing against the view that this is a terminal crisis, the book concludes by exploring the likely forms that emergent labor movements will take in the twenty-first century.


List of figures; List of tables; Preface and acknowledgments; 1. Introduction; 2. Labor movements and capital mobility; 3. Labor movements and product cycles; 4. Labor movements and world politics; 5. Contemporary dynamics in world-historical perspectives; Appendices; References; Index.

Prize Winner

Winner, 2005 Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award, American Sociological Association

Winner, 2004 Distinguished Book Award, Political Economy of the World System section, American Sociological Association

Honorable Mention, 2005 Sociology of Labor Book Award, Labor and Labor Movements section of the American Sociological Association

Winner, 2006 Distinguished Academic Literature Award from the Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism


"Forces of Labor is fresh, compelling, and a must read for all interested in labor unrest and the future of the world's labor movements." American Journal of Sociology

"By broadening the geography for understanding labor struggles, Silver shows us that these are going strong in many parts of the world even as they have weakened and fizzled in the North Atlantic. A great contribution to contemporary debates about the politics of contestation." Saskia Sassen, The University of Chicago

"Beverly Silver's new book is a challenge to political economists and economic sociologists and even to those historians who still care about capitalism trajectories. Avoiding the deceptive poles of both "race to the bottom" pessimism and liberal optimism, availing herself of both an immense database and of deep historical knowledge, Silver traces the recurring rises and declines of the world labor movement along two dimensions of capital mobility: its spatial displacement and its shift to new product lines--both in response to labor militancy. Sweeping and detailed, ponderous but readable, comparative and historical, this book takes the political economy of world systems to a new level." Sidney Tarrow, Cornell University

"Forces of Labor is fresh, compelling, and a must read for all interested in labor unrest and the future of the world's labor movements." American Journal of Sociology

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