Do Capitalists Matter in the Capitalist Labor Process?



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1. Kathy Mooney, Phil Kraft, Rick Baldoz, and Tom Klug contributed in various ways to this paper. I'm grateful for their help.

2. Manufacturers' Association of the City of Bridgeport, Minutes of Executive Board and Committee Meetings, Bridgeport Public Library, Accession 1981.06, Box 1; Machinists' Monthly Journal, July, 1913: 680.

3. Manufacturers' Association of Bridgeport, Minutes, April 25, 28, 29, 1913, April 2, 1914.

4. Offe and Wiesenthal offered theoretical support for these assumptions. Their widely cited essay ("Two Logics of Collective Action: Theoretical Notes on Social Class and Organizational Form," Political Power and Social Theory: A Research Annual 1 (1980): 67-115) argued that employers, unlike workers, had no need of collective action either to construct or to implement their interests.

5. For a comparison of working-class and capitalist class formation, see Roy and Parker-Gwin (1999) and Haydu (1999b).

6. Ramirez, in particular, emphasizes that smaller firms dealt with their labor problems collectively, while in their labor policies large corporations could afford to be the rugged individualists (Ramirez 1978).

7. Griffin et al. (1986) also emphasize the importance of collective action in fighting unions and abolishing craft restrictions. But they do not see common action and organizations as especially important, or particularly difficult to achieve, for small firms in competitive industries.

8. I have not found figures for the total numbers of employer associations, but their spread probably matched the growth of less specialized Chambers of Commerce, numbering 30 in 1850, 2,944 in 1898, and 3,356 in 1913 (Sturges 1915, 44-45) By 1920, about two-thirds of all industrial cities had active employers' associations (Derber 1984, 89).

9. Roger Gould (1995) reviews the theoretical rationale for attributing changing identities to new social networks.

10. The history of production techniques has been reinterpreted as a story of multiple paths pursued by employers as they creatively adapted to their environment. Leading examples of this approach include Piore and Sabel (1984), Scranton (1997), Sabel and Zeitlin (1997). In explaining why particular industries followed specific paths, these scholars sometimes emphasize networks of trust and reciprocity among economic actors. They do not investigate class formation and collective identities among industrialists, however.

11. For a more extended discussion of correspondance between the rhetorics of political reform and anti-unionism, see Haydu (1999a).

12. For both workers and employers, however, relations among individuals across workplaces are at least as important for class formation as relations among individuals at a single site.

13. Celebrations of flexibility and surveys of contemporary “best practices” include Piore and Sabel (1984), Appelbaum and Batt (1994), Bernstein (1997), Gee, Hull and Lankshear (1996), and Hirschhorn (1997).

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