Forces of Labor

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Forces of Labor

Beverly Silver in her outstanding and profound book Forces of Labor shows the relationship between the local labor movements and the socioeconomic and political processes occurring on a world scale since the 19th century. The author draws on the main set of the global labor riots. Through comprehensive, accurate, and detailed examination of various world industries, Silver represents how the main site of the labor unrest has shifted from the state to state along with the shift in the geographical manufacturing location. An empirical and thorough analysis demonstrates how the main site of labor riots has changed over time along with reduction and increase of new sectors of capitalistic development. The effects and causes of labor movements are deeply rooted in the global political dynamics. The study highlights the modern global crisis of the labor movement in the entire history of labor movements. Opposing the standpoint that the crisis is terminal, Silver concludes by investigating the probable forms of emerging labor movements in the 21st century.

Silver (2003) tries to demonstrate the relationship between the labor struggle and socioeconomic changes on a grand scale including globalization of certain industries and cycles of manufacturing. The book Forces of Labor written by the professor Silver gives a reason to believe that ongoing struggle of working class will continue to play a key and vital role in establishing a social order in the 21st century.

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The author argues that individuals, who consider the present-day labor crisis terminal, tend to see the current epoch as a fundamental and unprecedented time in which the world economic processes entirely reshape the working class and locality, on which the labor movement should function. People, who expect the emergence of new labor movements, tend to perceive capitalism as a historical event characterizing by repetitive dynamics, including the permanent contradictions and conflicts between capital and labor. Therefore, Forces of Labor recasts the study of labor emphasizing geographical and historical frames of analysis that it is ordinarily done.

Silver (200) argues that historical parallels between the modern era, characterized by the world crisis of the labor movement, and the period of the 1890s, when labor movements suffered unexpected and significant changes still exist. However, the crisis of the labor movement was short- lived. Within ten years, labor riots were growing. Both social democratic parties and trade unions unprecedentedly expanded in its influence and membership. Within two decades, the working class was in the wake of revolution and radical changes. Forces of Labor refers to the fact that today’s labor crisis has also resulted from considerable growth of financial capital, innovation in the labor process, and relocation of the capital into new manufacturing. Therefore, most of the book’s chapters are concerned with exploring contradictory outcomes of these processes in the course of time in order to examine the possibility that the modern labor crisis will likewise be temporal.                                                                                                                                        

As well as the labor unrest through geographical relocation fled, capital started to exploit new industries. Silver (2003) draws parallels with the 20th century, when the restless textile proletariat shifted into the automotive industry. Redeployment simply shifted the epicenter of the riots of workers in new industries. Silver (2003) substantiates this parallel by considering a number of new industries and the dynamics of their conflicts starting with the impact of different sectors it underpins. The automation of many aspects of consumer electronics manufacturing indicated that employment in this particular industry did not directly affect the formation of working class equivalent to the historical influence of automobile and textile industries (Silver, 2003). The whole industrial sector is characterized by the labor division in the world setting apart from the spatial relocation identified for the automotive manufacturing.

From the outset, production has contributed to the massive expansion of the Asian industrial proletariat, especially in the People’s Republic of China, whilst development, various scientific and technical functions are concentrated in the prosperous capitalist countries. The concentration of management functions in these epicenters has led to the significant growth in production services of the global corporations including consulting, telecommunications, accounting, and advertising. However, while some people have recognized highly paid managerial, technical and professional jobs as those that indicate an accommodation between labor and capital in the new economy, Silver (2003) argues that data contradicts this viewpoint. The author defends her standpoint by claiming, where production services are growing rapidly, the polarization of the labor force is also observed. The evidence indicates that the total labor rest occurring through the 20th century significantly affected various service industries.

When discussing the principle of the product fix, the author tries to highlight what industries may become the leading enterprises in the 21th century. Since the author cannot settle on one, she considers production, personal services, and education industry as interesting sections and starts to speculate on its potential strengths. While producers of services have been directed through the Internet and abroad, viruses as well as hacking will probably become a potent tool in the near future. Despite the fact that tutors are dispersed in various workplaces, they have one employee from the whole staff, which enhances their bargaining power and play a basic role in the division of social labor. If they do not work, it will be difficult for the family with children to go to work (Silver, 2003). 

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