264 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 2 illus., notes, bibl., index
Cultural Studies of the United States
Wages, Workers, and the Political Economy of the American West
2008 Michael Harrington Best Book Award, New Political Science Section, American Political Science Association
2008 Paul Sweezy Outstanding Book Award, Marxist Sociology Section, American Sociological Association
A wage is more than a simple fee in exchange for labor, argues Geoff Mann. Beyond being a quantitative reflection of productivity or bargaining power, a wage is a political arena in which working people's identity, culture, and politics are negotiated and developed. In Our Daily Bread, Mann examines struggles over wages to reveal ways in which the wage becomes a critical component in the making of social hierarchies of race, gender, and citizenship.
Combining a fresh analysis of radical political economy with a critical assessment of the role of white men in North American labor politics, Mann addresses the issue of class politics and places the problem of "interests" squarely at the center of political economy. Rejecting the idea that interests are self-evident or unproblematic, Mann argues that workers' interests, and thus wage politics, are the product of the ongoing effort by wage workers to focus on quality in a socioeconomic system that relentlessly quantifies. Taking three wage disputes in the natural resources industry as his case studies, Mann demonstrates that wage negotiation is not simply emblematic of economic conflict over the distribution of income but also represents critical contests in the cultural politics of identity under capitalism.
"[An] important book."
--Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
"Should prove of interest not only to economists, economic geographers, and labor historians, but also to those engaged in, for instance, cultural studies and political theory."
--Environment and Planning
"Brilliantly argued and beautifully written."
--Journal of Historical Geography
"Profoundly theoretical and compellingly argued . . . a work of stunning originality."
--Labor Studies Journal
"Provocative and stimulating."
--The Annals of Iowa
"Compelling, provocative, and creative. . . . [Mann's] case studies show us the role of wage struggles in the creation of nationalistic, gender, and racial identities as the cultural politics of wages unfold over time and in different contexts."
--Award Committee, Michael Harrington Best Book Award, New Political Science Section, American Political Science Association
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