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Why Labor Wins, Why Labor Loses: A Test of Two Theories

Robert Biggert
The Sociological Quarterly
Vol. 38, No. 1 (Winter, 1997), pp. 205-224
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Midwest Sociological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4121271
Page Count: 20
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Why Labor Wins, Why Labor Loses: A Test of Two Theories
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Abstract

Legal regulation of the labor contract is central to American policy formation. This study analyzes the reasons for the passage of federal labor laws that governed workplace activity in the United States from 1897 to 1980. The dependent variable includes all major federal statutes that are favorable or detrimental to labor. Two theories are considered: a mass disruption approach and a party control perspective. Qualitative comparative analysis is used to assess the utility of both theories. For the pro-labor laws, the findings show partial support for both models. The theories are better at explaining reform prior to rather than after World War II. An explanation is presented for this temporal break. For the antilabor laws, the results are inconclusive due to the small sample size. An alternative account is offered that focuses on policy making under divided government. This research suggests analyzing the interaction of economic, class, and political variables and using larger sample research designs as guidelines for future investigation.

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