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Look Inside Belated Feudalism

Belated Feudalism
Labor, the Law, and Liberal Development in the United States


  • Author: Karen Orren, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Date Published: May 1992
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521410397

£ 72.00

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About the Authors
  • Traditional theories of American political development depict the American state as a thoroughly liberal state from its very inception. In this book, first published in 1992, Karen Orren challenges that account by arguing that a remnant of ancient feudalism was, in fact, embedded in the American governmental system, in the form of the law of master and servant, and persisted until well into the twentieth century. The law of master and servant was, she reveals, incorporated in the US Constitution and administered from democratic politics. The fully legislative polity that defines the modern liberal state was achieved in America, Orren argues, only through the initiatives of the labor movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was finally ushered in as part of the processes of collective bargaining instituted by the New Deal. This book represents a fundamental reinterpretation of constitutional change in the United States and of the role of American organized labor, which is shown to be a creator of liberalism, rather than a spoiler of socialism.

    • A challenge to the traditional view of the role of labor relations in the political development of the USA
    • Orren sees labor as the champion of liberalism rather than the defeated proponent of socialism
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'I have always insisted that political science had a lot more to say about economic history. My best confirmation comes from Karen Orren. Her forcefully written book brings an entirely new perspective to the place of labor in the United States and goes beyond that to fresh insights on corporate capitalism itself.' Theodore J. Lowi, Cornell University

    Belated Feudalism is a stunning reinterpretation of the American political order as a whole. Labor and law are avenues to a broad vista. Orren reconceptualizes the logic of American political development, the relation of public and private in American politics, and the place of labor history in American political history. On all of these dimensions, one cannot read this book without having one's views shaken up and permanently altered.' Jeffrey K. Tulis, University of Texas, Austin

    'Orren's argument is extremely original, it is innovative and it is highly intriguing. She presents her point of view with verve and style. The book will be controversial and, as such, attract wide attention.' Christopher Tomlins, American Bar Foundation

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 1992
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521410397
    • length: 252 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: liberalism and labor in developmental perspective
    2. The transition to liberalism and the remnant of American labor
    3. Belated feudalism: the order of the workplace in late-nineteenth-century America
    4. The old order and collective action
    5. Masters, servants, and the new American state
    6. Conclusion: the state of liberalism

  • Author

    Karen Orren, University of California, Los Angeles

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