Rights v. conspiracy : a sociological essay on the history of labour law in the United States /
Anthony Woodiwiss.
Oxford [England] ; New York : Berg ; New York : Distributed exclusively in the US and Canada by St. Martin's Press, 1989.
ix, 332 p. ; 22 cm.
More Details
Oxford [England] ; New York : Berg ; New York : Distributed exclusively in the US and Canada by St. Martin's Press, 1989.
catalogue key
Includes bibliography (p. 297-322) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1991-03:
Woodiwiss adopts a sociological and historical approach to analyzing the development of American labor law. The author's thesis is that the law of industrial relations has worked to the disadvantage of labor, but that the legal system has sufficient "relative autonomy" to be more than "irremediably an instrument for the conscious protection of capitalist private property." Working from this perspective, Woodiwiss surveys four major phases in the evolution of labor law. The first phase, extending from the early 1800s to the 1870s, is dominated by the common law doctrine of conspiracy, which held that combinations of workers might be punished by criminal law. The second phase featured the regulation of labor through judicial injunctions. Beginning with the Norris-La Guardia Act of 1932, labor law attained a statutory footing, and courts were displaced by the federal legislature in the formulation of legal policy. The final period covers the postwar era to the present and focuses on the development of "responsible unionism." Under this regime, organized labor is relegated to the task of managing worker discontent and controlling strikes. The study is not particularly original in concept or method, but it does provide an overview of current labor law theory. Upper-division and graduate collections. -R. L. Hogler, Colorado State University
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, March 1991
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Main Description
Based on Foucaultian as well as on more traditional critical ideas, this study attempts to provide a critical and original account of the historical development of American labour law. It is argued that only by paying attention to changes in wider legal and social discourses can we fully understand the transformations that have occurred within American labour law and which have resulted in unions ceasing to be regarded as criminal conspiracies and becoming instead the bearers of well-established but still contested legal rights.

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