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Journal Article

Advanced Capitalism and Black/White Race Relations in the United States: A Split Labor Market Interpretation

Edna Bonacich
American Sociological Review
Vol. 41, No. 1 (Feb., 1976), pp. 34-51
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2094371
Page Count: 18
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Advanced Capitalism and Black/White Race Relations in the United States: A Split Labor Market Interpretation
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Abstract

A distinguishing feature of the black position in advanced capitalism lies in relatively high unemployment and underemployment, a phenomenon that emerged in the 1930s and became firmly entrenched in the mid-1950s. To explain this we examined the black/white split labor market between World War I and the New Deal, showing how blacks were used to undermine white workers and their unions. The conflict was resolved with New Deal Labor legislation, protecting the unions and outlawing undercutting. This permitted a coalition to emerge between black and white workers. But in the long run the rising cost of labor drove capital to seek cheaper labor overseas, to make use of internal pockets of unprotected labor or to automate. All three processes hurt black industrial workers disproportionately, leaving a group of hardcore unemployed in the ghettos.

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