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Trade unions and the wages fund theory: on the significance of Mill’s recantation and some notes on Marx’s theoretical intervention

Sotiropoulos, Dimitris and Economakis, George (2008). Trade unions and the wages fund theory: on the significance of Mill’s recantation and some notes on Marx’s theoretical intervention. History of Economic Ideas, 16(3) pp. 21–48.

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The intensity of class struggle in England of 1860s began to transform trade unions from mutual aid association societies to key factors in wage bargaining. These changes at the political level undoubtedly triggered corresponding shifts in theoretical discussion of wages. These shifts had to do chiefly with the recognition of the capacity of the trade unions to impose permanent increases in real wages without causing unemployment. Our analysis will focus on the theoretical interventions of J. S. Mill and K. Marx in this historic conjuncture. They both implicitly challenged the dominant analytical consensus in accordance with which every labour confrontation was ultimately detrimental to the working class’s own interests. Revising his own previous arguments, Mill came to support a reformist strategy which made room for trade unions but in the final analysis did not dispute capitalist rule. Marx, by contrast, challenged such political projects, stressing the irreconcilable contradiction between the long-run class interests of capital and labour.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2008 Fabrizio Serra · Editore
ISSN: 1724-2169
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for Accounting and Finance
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Research Group: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
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Item ID: 38540
Depositing User: Dimitris Sotiropoulos
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2013 11:15
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 22:16
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