Our Daily Bread: Wages, Workers, and the Political Economy of the American Westby Geoff Mann
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.
What People are saying about this
This remarkable work combines broad theoretical expertise and rich historical case studies to demonstrate that workers' struggles over pay are anything but defensive and narrow. In Mann's compelling account contests over compensation speak profoundly to the everyday lives and the freedom dreams of those who wage them.David Roediger, University of Illinois
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
Our Daily Bread is a book whose brilliance is enhanced by its accessible writing and attention to the everyday. Going beyond 'embeddedness' to show how wage struggles encompass every element of political life and cultural practice, Mann reinvents our idea of class struggle. Particularly good on the race-class relationship, deeply theoretical, but above all committed to telling the stories of labor's creative confrontation with capital, Our Daily Bread should be adopted in courses across the disciplines. Highly recommended!Howard Winant, University of California, Santa Barbara
Provocative and stimulating.The Annals of Iowa
Meet the Author
Geoff Mann is assistant professor of geography at Simon Fraser University.
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