State-Making and Labor Movements: Finance and the United States, 1876-1914 (Hardcover)
Economist Gerald Friedman, in an astute comparative study of the evolution of labor movements in the United States and France in the period from 1876 to 1914, illuminates not only the distinctive turns to syndicalism in France and craft unionism in the United States, but also the unique impact each form of unionization had on the shaping of the French and the U.S. states. He analyzes an enormous amount of data--extending estimates of union membership back to 1884 for France and 1880 for the United States--to present a lucid picture of the growth and outcome of both movements.
The historic weakness of radical political movements in the United States has perplexed scholars of American labor for over a century. Friedman reevaluates the problem of American "exceptionalism" through his examination of the labor movement, exploring the constraints placed on radicalism by employers and state officials. He shows that a one-sided approach focused exclusively on the role of the working class has rendered labor history static: historical change is something that also happens to workers when circumstances change for workers. Friedman's perspective brings new dynamism to labor history by incorporating the impact of other social actors and the conflicts between them.