By Lawrence B. Glickman
The struggle for a "living salary" has an extended and revealing background as documented the following by way of Lawrence B. Glickman. The exertions movement's reaction to wages exhibits how American staff negotiated the transition from artisan to patron, starting up new political chances for geared up staff and developing contradictions that proceed to hang-out the exertions stream today.
Nineteenth-century employees was hoping to develop into self-employed artisans, instead of everlasting "wage slaves." After the Civil warfare, notwithstanding, unions redefined working-class id in consumerist phrases, and demanded a salary that will gift employees commensurate with their wishes as shoppers. This consumerist flip in hard work ideology additionally led staff to fight for shorter hours and union labels.
First articulated within the 1870s, the call for for a residing salary used to be voiced more and more through hard work leaders and reformers on the flip of the century. Glickman explores the racial, ethnic, and gender implications, as white male staff outlined themselves not like African americans, ladies, Asians, and up to date ecu immigrants. He indicates how a historic point of view at the idea of a residing salary can tell our knowing of present controversies.
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Extra resources for A Living Wage: American Workers and the Making of Consumer Society
Indeed. noted Mitchell. " lra Steward. years before. had simi larly suggested that workers should be emanCipated through wages. not from them: 'The repeal of . . slavery . . was an Indirect way of deciding. that laborers should have some more wealth. How much more is the great unanswered question. " 53 This consumerist reading of emancipation went hand In hand with a view of slavery as poverty and poverty as enslaving. In this vision. living wages marked a kind of eternal emancipation. 2 Idle Men and Fallen Women American workers, labor leaders, and reformers expressed acute anxiety about the dangers of the encroaching market In the years between the CiVil War and World War 1 Wage labor, they feared, threatened to tum everything Into a commodity, with dangerous ramifications for the repub lic and the working people who constituted it "As a rule everything a poor man has is for sale," wrote Ira Steward.
Even members of the labor aris tocracy - white male trade unionists - were forced to sell their labor. "2 1 I n spite o f this dtlemma, many workers kept artisanal dreams al1ve in their collective memory long after wage labor became commonplace . Some challenged the unreal1stic premises of the expectation that all com petent workers would move out of wage labor. Others clung to the myth that independence was within reach of any hardworking citizen. In 1 886 P. M. " To be free, according to the "free labor" ideology and its later variants, was to be able to work for oneself, to hire others, and, if necessary, to be hired - but only temporarily.
Understanding the "pros titution" discourse helps to explain the rhetorical path to the living wage. Unlike chattel slavery. prostitution represented a continuing problem in reality as well as metaphor. Yet labor's prostitution discourse was sur prisingly disembodied. rarely referrtng to real prostitutes or. surprisingly. even to women. It was. in fact. a discourse about masculinity. Reconciling wage labor with normative gender roles. it shed light on the conditions under which wages would be accepted: namely.