Workers' Control in Latin America, 1930-1979

By Jonathan C. Brown | Go to book overview

PREFACE

The original essays in this book attempt to make Latin American labor history accessible to the widest possible readership. In covering some of the most important events to take place in Latin America between 1930 and 1979, we authors have taken special care to describe how workers influenced the outcomes. For this alone, the book would contribute new knowledge to Latin American history. But we seek to add not only to factual information but to conceptual understanding as well, and to do this, we employ many analytical concepts including, most prominently, that of "workers' control." The objective is to explain why the working class of each country participated in public affairs at critical junctures in history. Readers will learn from these essays that the reasons motivating workers' actions are as important as how they behaved. After all, understanding causality is more useful for analyzing the patterns of Latin American labor history than the mere memorization of specific worker- inspired events. Causality of one set of events may be compared with the causality of another in a different time and place in order to test extant hypotheses and ultimately to build new, more universal paradigms.

The writers of this volume have aspired to present their arguments in the clearest fashion, to make these vignettes intrinsically interesting, and to write well. Each chapter is formatted identically and can be read in one sitting. Each contains a brief introduction on the prior role of workers in their nation's history in order to provide the proper context for the intelligent but perhaps not knowledgeable reader. At the end of each chapter appears a brief postscript placing the story into the subsequent history of the country. A bibliography is appended at the end of the volume so that the readers may follow up with their own investigations into the history of Latin American workers.

As much as possible, the authors aspire to have this collection read like a single-author volume. Each chapter strives to make a rigorous argument, the summaries of which are located in both the introduction and the conclusion. These arguments comment on the causality that connects workers' actions to the great historical events. Quotations are minimized; abstract concepts are clearly defined in the text. The authors keep the arcane jargon of social science to a minimum and avoid the endless and confusing acronyms that

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