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Discourse on the Docks: Containerization and Inter-Union Work Disputes in US Ports, 1955-85

Andrew Herod
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Vol. 23, No. 2 (1998), pp. 177-191
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/623265
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Discourse on the Docks: Containerization and Inter-Union Work Disputes in US Ports, 1955-85
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Abstract

Research on labour markets has often focused on the economics of work location. Far less attention has been paid to how labour markets are constructed discursively. In this paper, I analyse how the creation of rival discourses concerning traditions of work were central elements in the efforts of two unions to structure local labour markets, in order to retain work for their members in the face of technological innovation. The struggle between the two unions centred on their abilities to construct rival discourses concerning the historical geography of work in the industry. These formed the basis for judicial interpretations concerning whether the actions of the dockers' union represented a legal work preservation action or an illegal work acquisition measure. Such interpretations shaped the subsequent evolution of work and labour markets in the industry. The ability of economic actors to shape discourse in their favour can be a powerful force in the regulation of local labour markets, and thus in the production of economic landscapes.

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