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The Anthropology of Labor Unions

edited by E. Paul Durrenberger and Karaleah S. Reichart

Paperback Price $22.95
Ebook Price $18.95
30-day ebook rental price $9.99

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"As the first collection to bring together anthropological case studies of labor unions, The Anthropology of Labor Unions will hopefully encourage more anthropologists to engage in this important field of study. As a sophisticated treatment of labor and labor unions, this very readable collection will be of interest not only to anthropologists but to historians, sociologists, and all of us interested in labor studies."
—Steve Striffler, Journal of Anthropological Research

"Durrenberger and Reichart produce and idea-rich, pioneering collection on the sociocultural anthropology of unions, certainly citable for years to come. Their book is valuable not just for students of unions but also to those interested in the broader social relations of work influenced and even restrained by the state."
—Frederick C. Gamst, Anthropology of Work Review


The Anthropology of Labor Unions presents ethnographic data and analysis in eight case studies from several very diverse industries. It covers a wide range of topics, from the role of women and community in strikes to the importance of place in organization, and addresses global concerns with studies from Mexico and Malawu.

Union-organized workplaces consistently afford workers higher wages and better pensions, benefits, and health coverage than their nonunion counterparts. In addition, women and minorities who belong to unions are more likely to receive higher wages and benefits than their nonunion peers. Given the economic advantages of union membership, one might expect to see higher rates of organization across industries, but labor affiliation is at an all-time low. What accounts for this discrepancy? The contributors in this volume provide a variety of perspectives on this paradox, including discussions of approaches to and findings on the histories, cultures, and practices of organized labor. They also address substantive issues such as race, class, gender, age, generation, ethnicity, health and safety concerns, corporate co-optation of unions, and the cultural context of union-management relationships.

The first to bring together anthropological case studies of labor unions, this volume will appeal to cultural anthropologists, social scientists, sociologists, and those interested in labor studies and labor movements.

Contributors: Karen Brodkin, E. Paul Durrenberger, Suzan Erem, Marty Otañez, Karaleah S. Reichart, Peter Richardson, Lydia Savage, Jessica M. Smith, Sandy Smith Nonini, Christian Zlolniski


E. Paul Durrenberger is emeritus professor of anthropology from the University of Iowa and Penn State University and recipient of the Society for Applied Anthropology's Malinowski Award for 2014. He has done fieldwork in tribal and peasant areas of Thailand, Iceland, and the United States and has published a number of academic papers and books, including The Dawn of Industrial Agriculture in Iowa, The Anthropological Study of Class and Consciousness, The Anthropology of Labor Unions, Gambling Debt and Uncertain Times.

Karaleah S. Reichart is an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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  • Paperback Price: $22.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60732-184-2
  • Ebook Price: $18.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $9.99
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-043-2
  • Publication Year: 2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: edited by E. Paul Durrenberger and Karaleah S. Reichart
  • ECommerce Code: 978-0-87081-965-0
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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