International Labor and Working-Class History

Articles

Subordination, Authority, Law: Subjects in Labor History

Christopher Tomlinsa1

a1 American Bar Foundation

In the first section of this essay I discuss alternative ways of interpreting an eighteenth-century anecdote about employment relations. This serves to introduce a series of arguments that advocate altering our conception of labor history (with special reference to American labor history) in ways that center it on the study of household relations. Asserting that law is the primary site upon which authoritative social relations are constituted, I also argue that legal history—in this case the history of domestic relations law—is of fundamental importance to the labor history the essay recommends.

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