Volume 54 part 2 (August 2009)


Larry W. Isaac and Paul Lipold. Striking Deaths: Lethal Contestation and the "Exceptional" Character of the American Labor Movement, 1870-1970
The decades between the Great Railway Strike of 1877 and the post-World War II institutionalization of organized labor in the U.S. have been impressionistically characterized by labor scholars as the most violent and bloody to be found in any Western, democratic nation. A variety of different forms of labor repression have been identified and studied. Yet because of a lack of systematic data, none have been able to directly examine the incidence and contours of the ultimate form of violent repression in collective contention. We create the conceptual space for pursuing bloodshed and a new data set featuring deaths resulting from labor strikes as a new and promising direction in the American exceptionalism debate and in studies of comparative strikes. Through a painstaking search of the historical record, we produce the first systematic quantitative gauge of striking deaths between 1870 and 1970. These data permit a mapping of fatalities resulting from labor strikes across time, geographical region, and industry. After describing these configurations of strike-based mortality, we suggest what these patterned variations may mean and identify additional questions that these data may help resolve in subsequent studies. We urge comparable data collections in other countries that would permit direct comparative-historical assessments of the magnitude and role of bloodshed in different labor movements.

Steven King. "I fear you will think me too presumtuous in my demands but necessity has no law": Clothing in English Pauper Letters 1800-1834
This article investigates the way in which the English poor used the rhetoric of clothing in their engagement with local officials as they attempted to secure poor relief. Using letters written about or by the dependent poor from a wide selection of English communities, the article suggests that the poor employed concepts such as raggedness, lost clothing, nakedness, compromised dignity and community presence and the link between poor clothing and unemployment, to assert their deservingness. An exemplar of a series of letters from the same person is used to explore how paupers developed the rhetoric of clothing over a sustained period of correspondence, suggesting that paupers had a keen appreciation of the impact of compromised clothing in their negotiations with officials. Ultimately, the paper will argue, paupers and officials had a shared concept of minimal clothing standards and a shared linguistic register for linking clothing and deservingness.

Marcel van der Linden. Charles Tilly's Historical Sociology
Charles Tilly (1929-2008) was one of the greatest sociologists of the second half of the twentieth century. His incredible energy and creativity were a powerful force in reviving the historical-comparative perspective in social sciences and produced many new insights. Tilly has covered a very broad range of subjects, from contentious behavior, urbanization, proletarianization, and state formation, to migration, democratization, and persistent social inequality. His oeuvre is so vast - he wrote or edited dozens of books and published hundreds of scholarly articles and countless book reviews - that it has become a challenge to synthesize. In this article the author offers a comprehensive critique, to further interest in and debate about the subject. First, he draws a sketch of Tilly's intellectual development since the late 1950s. Next, he discusses a few recurring themes from his work that are of special interest to historians of the working classes. The author concludes with a critical review of Tilly's achievements.