Collapse of Eastern European communisms

An earlier post commented on Tony Judt's magnificent book Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. There I focused on the story he tells of the brutality of the creation of Communist Party dictatorships across Eastern Europe (link). Equally fascinating is his narrative of the abrupt collapse of those states in 1989. In short order …

Jobs, basic income, and the future of the techno-market economy

In the dystopian vision of the future described in William Gibson's Sprawl novels, there are few people with normal jobs, regular sources of income, retirement plans, and health insurance. Instead, there are hackers, freelance security guards, software traffickers, criminals at many levels, and a few distant corporations with scientists and managers. It is a grim …

How is “work” socially constituted?

How does "work" take shape in an advanced manufacturing and service economy? Is the division of labor a natural outcome of technology, or is it the result of a concrete set of social processes involving the strategies and interests of several groups? What kinds of social processes determine the bundle of skills, knowledge, and training …

Contentious politics in China

By official count, the incidence of popular protest in China has increased ten-fold in the past fifteen years.  Kevin O'Brien and Rachel Stern report that the Chinese state reported 8,700 "collective incidents" in 1993, and this number had grown to 87,000 by 2005 (12).  And the issues that have evoked protest have expanded as well: …

Works councils and US labor relations

image: Diego Rivera, Rouge Plant mural, Detroit Institute of Arts   The United States has one of the lowest rates of union representation of all developed countries. The 1994 level of unionized workers in the US had fallen to about 12 percent of private sector employment, and the trend is downward.  And the sole institutional …

Labor abuses in China

The world press has begun to find ways of documenting the conditions of workers in many of the factories in China devoted to manufacturing goods for export to the United States and other countries (for example, In Chinese Factories, NYT, 1/5/08). The reportage is eye-opening but not surprising.  Reporters have documented excessive hours of work, pay …

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