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A Contest of IdeasCapital, Politics, and Labor$
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Nelson Lichtenstein

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037856

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037856.001.0001

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Writing and Rewriting Labor’s Narrative

Writing and Rewriting Labor’s Narrative

(p.15) Chapter 1 Writing and Rewriting Labor’s Narrative
A Contest of Ideas

Nelson Lichtenstein

University of Illinois Press

This chapter presents the author'a account of how he reframed his understanding of the structures and social impulses that create the consciousness of the working-class as well its antagonists. At Berkeley in the early 1970s he was convinced that neither the law, religion, ethnicity, nor even race were as important as the work experience itself in shaping the consciousness of industrial unionists, whose sit-down strikes and wildcat strikes seemed to emerge directly out of a revolt against hierarchy and authority on the shop floor itself. However, he has come to the conclusion that the relationship of an individual to his or her work life is of less immediate importance than that person's capacity to identify with and then expound a set of ideas and aspirations that may or may not run parallel to what an outside observer might seem to think met the person's objective interests.

Keywords:   labor history, labor historians, working class, Great Depression, labor movement, unionists

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