Economic Development and the Labour Movement

  • Adolf Sturmthal


The history of organized labour movements covers now about a century and a half or more. During that period various types of labour movements have appeared on the stage of history. Many have come and gone: highly political movements with heavy ideological commitments, bread-and-butter unions refusing to be involved in social reform movements, organizations committed to national liberation and rapid industrialization, others endeavouring to combine practical day-by-day activities with dedication to a long-run social ideal, etc. No type seems to be guaranteed survival; none is doomed from the outset. A few have survived as they were at the origins. Others, perhaps most, have changed their character with the passage of time.


Labour Market Labour Force Political Action Trade Union Collective Bargaining 
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  1. 1.
    W. A. Lewis, ‘Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour’, The Manchester School of Economic and Social Studies, May 1954; also, ‘Unlimited Labour: Further Notes’, ibid. June 1958. See alsoGoogle Scholar
  2. S. Enke, ‘Economic Development with Unlimited and Limited Supplies of Labour’, Oxford Economic Papers, June 1962.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Customary rules on apprenticeship enabled the British craft societies ‘to exert a firm control over the size of the labour force’. This was combined with measures designed to ensure that ‘certain types of work were reserved for the qualified worker’. Contrast this with the same authors’ report about the New Unionism of the’ 80’s and ‘the extreme vulnerability of the members of these unions to replacement by other workers’. The bulk, though — as the authors emphasize — by no means all, of these workers were low-skilled. H. A. Clegg, Alan Fox and A. F. Thompson, A History of British Trade Unions Since 1889, Vol. I, Oxford, 1964, pp. 5, 95.Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    ‘The revolts of the Luddites, the strikes and machine-breakings of 1818, the Reform agitation, the “Last Labourers’ Revolt’, of 1831, the Owenite Trades Unionism of 1830–34, even the Chartist movement, with its land schemes and its hostility to the Corn Law reformers, were all deeply penetrated with the hatred of the new industrialism.’ G. D. H. Cole, A Short History of the British Working Class Movement, New York, Macmillan, 1927, Vol. 1, pp. 12–13. See also his reference to the Hammonds’ work: ‘The Skilled Labourer’ who according to Cole showed ‘how the lead in organization had almost always to be taken, not by the new types of wage-slaves, but by the older established craftsmen, whose status and standards were menaced by the Industrial Revolution’. Cole, op. cit. p. 57.Google Scholar
  5. 1.
    Val R. Lorwin, The French Labor Movement, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1954, p. 41.Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    Democracy in France, Oxford, 1952, p. 45.Google Scholar
  7. 1.
    See the papers by John Windmuller, Elliott Berg and S. Kannappan at the annual meeting of the Industrial Relations Research Association in December 1963, in Boston, Massachusetts. Also Fritz Redlich, ‘Ideas: Their Migration in Space and Transmittal over Time, a Systematic Treatment’, Kyklos, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1953–54, pp. 301–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Institute for Labour Studies 1966

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adolf Sturmthal

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