Book notes/References Bibliographiques

Labour/Le Travail, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

Book notes/References Bibliographiques


Hans G. Schuetze and Robert Sweet, Integrating School and Workplace Learning in Canada: Principles and Practices of Alternation Education and Training (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press 2003)

THE TITLE LARGELY SUMMARIZES the content of the essays in this work. The aim of the book is to consider ways in which employers can insure that their employees have the skills that will contribute surplus value for the former. But there is no mention of surplus value here or any other critical concept. One contribution by Paul Axelrod, Paul Anisef, and Zeng Lin provides a conservative defence of liberal arts programs at universities, and essentially argues that high-status professionals need to have a broad-minded education because they make decisions that have a broad impact on society. But the rest of the book mainly focuses on making the status quo work better for both employers and workers, with the underlying assumption being that the interests of the two groups are essentially the same.

Jennifer Henderson, Settler Feminism and Race Making in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2003)

HENDERSON INTERROGATES the roles of white women in the construction of Anglo-Canadian imperialism in Canada as well as racial hierarchies. Her study discusses the discourse of three significant women's narratives, Anna Jameson's Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada, Theresa Gowanlock and Theresa Delaney's Two Months in the Camp of Big Bear, and Emily Murphy's Janey Canuck series.

David Witwer, Corruption and Reform in the Teamsters Union (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press 2003)

WITWER PROVIDES a detailed look at the operations of the Teamsters throughout the union's history. He places particular emphasis on the period in which Jimmy Hoffa led the union, a period mainly known to the public as one of "union corruption." But, as Witwer demonstrates, the corruption that bothered the American government often involved behaviour that was either completely legal or that was extra-legal but completely within the interests of union members. Officials used the term "corruption" to refer to all assertions of trade union power, deliberately confounding issues of class struggle with plain old theft and Mafia violence. This is a sophisticated analysis of a phenomenon that even many labour historians might have been tempted to view in black-and-white terms.

Susan Eleanor Hirsch, After the Strike: A Century of Labor Struggle at Pullman (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press 2003)

HISTORIANS MAY HAVE been mainly interested in Pullman workers because of their bitter and ultimately unsuccessful 1894 strike. But Susan Eleanor Hirsch demonstrates that, despite the corporate and state repression that defeated them in 1894, Pullman workers continued to search for social justice and to attempt to form a viable trade union. She traces their history from the beginnings of railway car manufacturing to the closing of the Pullman plants in the 1980s.

Dimitra Doukas, Worked Over: The Corporate Sabotage of an American Community (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press 2003)

THIS IS A HISTORY of a set of working-class towns in the Mohawk River Valley in New York from the early 1800s onwards. A mixture of industrial and working-class history, it blends ethnographic and historical research. Ultimately, it is a defence of the locally-based capitalism of the Remington family (arms and typewriters) of the 19th century as an alternative to the corporate capitalism of the 20th century that wreaked havoc in these communities. One can be rightly skeptical of its invoking of Marx to characterize locally owned capitalist manufacturing as follows: "communities can strategize to augment and apportion the commons, producing and selling goods in order to acquire goods that can be applied to the social purposes of community members." (168) The general mindset of this book can be better understood by reading the critique of similar books in Steven High's review essay in this issue. …

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