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Forces of Labor: Workers Movement and Globalization since 1870

Book Review: Forces of Labor Free Essay


Labor market is an important area of the economy, which defines the national financial sustainability. The book entitled Forces of Labor: Workers’ Movement and Globalization since 1870 is one of the most remarkable pieces of literature, which describes the post-war period characterized by labor movements. The author precisely discusses such areas as the automobile industry, educational sector, and the textile industry. The book is relevant for the evaluation of the author’s point of view and approach aimed at the collection of information. The book has enough advantages and disadvantages to discover in the perspective of the sociological value and historical interpretation, which find their reflection in the strategic decisions, author’s suggestions, and criticism of the author’s point of view.

Strategic Decisions of the Society

Car industry occupies a significant place in the book written by Silver. She mentioned the most important changes in the history of the car industry based on the movements of the production from one country to another at the beginning of the 21st century. First, the author mentioned that financial crisis, which took place after World War II, became the primary trigger of labor movements based on the workers’ desire to seek for stability and welfare in the Western Europe and North America (Silver 2003). For example, the author provides the readers with the argument in support of labor movements on the international level. According to Silver (2003), “While labor has been weakened in the locations from which productive capital emigrated, new working classes have been created and strengthened in the favored new sites of investment.” Nevertheless, the author points at the problematic consequences of labor movement to Japan associated with the development of the car industry. The author provided a narrow point of view on the situation, which had taken place in the history of the labor market development. According to the Silver’s point of view, every movement contradicted the essence of capitalism, as long as it became a deprivation of the national economy. Nevertheless, the owners of car business applied effective strategic decisions from the point of view of cost management and innovational enhancement of the existing technologies.

The author focused on the concept of capitalism, which was the core of the political structure that existed at the beginning of the 21st century in the USA. In terms of capitalism, the more workers are capable to work in the industry, the better results it will have on the national economy of the country and its political strength (Silver 2003). Nevertheless, the author mistakenly evaluated the movements of the car industry to the highly developed parts of the world by claiming that it became a threat to the national economy because of a high employee turnover rate.

In general, the book does not have enough focus on the strategies used by the government and the analyzed industries in support of their development and globalization. The post-World War II period was associated with significant financial difficulties for the majority of industries, which encouraged companies to seek for support and further growth in the developed countries free from the political implications and financial challenges. However, the author of the book focused on the shifts of the labor market globally, rather than the strategies that had a significant perspective in terms of further development of the industries.

Author’s Suggestions

Regardless of the myriad of phenomena of labor unrest in the automobile, educational, and textile industries, the author barely offers an explicit or implicit strategy, which could solve the issue of labor movements. By the end of the book, the author had explained that postwar contracts did not bring any efficiency in terms of business development. In particular, the author sees the roots of the problem in the mistakenly implemented strategies during the postwar period related to the internationalization of industries. Low-wages in the Third World countries were appealing enough for the industries to take the benefits of low-cost production (Charpe et al. 2014). Nevertheless, the book provided the audience with the factual data proving that post-war solutions did not become effective neither for labor market nor for capitalism. For example, according to Silver (2003), “With regard to capital mobility, the race-to-the-bottom thesis emphasizes the movement of capital from high-wage to low-wage areas in search of cheap labor.” The author criticizes the approach aimed at improving the economy of the post-war period by looking for low-wage areas helping to reduce costs of the leading companies in the analyzed industries. The book consists of continuous criticism of the previous decisions, which make the readers accept the idea that any international orientation of business is a negative phenomenon. As a result, the absence of the author’s suggestions regarding the optimal strategy to solving the issue of unrest labor led to the formulation of the idea that the author does not have any suggestions due to the inability to evaluate all industries in a complex way. A separate perception of industries did not provide the reader with a complex picture of the situation combining labor unrest and international expansion of business.

The major problem of the book from the perspective of establishing a grounded strategy for solving the issue of unrest labor is that the author focuses on the continuous comparison of the Third World and First World countries. In fact, the most appropriate strategy would be to discuss the issue of capitalism and labor market, which faced continuous pressure of financial fixes and newly applied policies (Akram Ch. et al. 2011). As a result, the problems raised in the book are not provided with an appropriate strategy, which could become an optimal solution for the future prevention of the same situation. However, the effect of the book remains the same – labor market continues to struggle in terms of the contemporary development as long as the relocation of the company’s manufacturing centers has a devastating effect on the status of labor unrest. It would be appropriate to have a valuable conclusion made by the author based on the evaluated information gathered from newspapers and magazines.

New Strategic Directions

As long as the author provided the reader with a narrow view on the strategies, which could possibly fix the situation of the labor unrest, it is difficult to continue discussing this point and extend the scope of strategies that could be helpful. Nevertheless, it is possible to consider the social scope of the issue and the importance of looking at the issue of labor movements in a broad way. Capitalistic issues, labor market problems, and post-war conditions were not satisfactory for the development of any industry (Ezcurra & Rodríguez-Pose 2013). Even the car industry, which started being developed in the 19th century, had to think about the alternative ways of the development and growth in order to take care of the industrial revival. The book has one major disadvantage, which does not allow seeing the problem by considering every viewpoint. The author did not reflect on workers’ experience and their needs in the post-war period. Every international conflict has a devastating effect on the national economy due to the increased level of costs spent on the protection of the national heritage and integrity (Anner 2012). The book did not mention one important detail regarding workers, which refers to the fact that war became a distracting element in the deprivation of the industrial sector (Seidman 2011). Workers had to turn the mobilization, which led to further demoralization and incapability to work in the same industry without sufficient financial support. Labor movements and labor unrest became the consequences of the inability to meet the financial needs of the workers willing to take care of their families (Fichter 2015). In this way, the author did not take into account that the companies had no other choice than to attempt to reach balance in the industrial growth thanks to the continuous relocation of the factories.

If the author was correct in assuming the efficiency of the financial fixes in the history of the U.S. economy accompanied by the internationalization of industries, it would be sufficient to consider the role of workers in shaping the national economy. In general, the author provides the readers with a significant idea perceived as a background for the strategy. According to Silver (2003), “The theoretical framework developed in this book suggests that we should look to the sites of significant new job growth as the critical arenas for emergent working-class formation and protest.” It is an appropriate recommendation, which should push the economy towards growth and financial stability. The contemporary leading strategists and the society would rather focus on the recommendation offered by the author, rather than believe that labor movements have a destructive impact on the national economy. Nevertheless, a narrow scope of the author’s strategic analysis of the labor market transformation along with the workers’ bargaining power on the grounds of the post-war situation became ineffective due to the inability to target the problems from a broad perspective.


The book written by Silver received many critical reviews from sociologists, historians, and social critics who cannot find appropriate connection between judgments and arguments made by the author. From personal point of view, it is possible to continue criticizing the book by providing the comparison of the book with one of the journal articles dedicated to the workers movements in the U.S. Johnathan Haskel and his co-authors decided to reveal the essence of workers movements and their influence on the economy. First, the main advantage of the article is that it starts from explaining the connection between the level of wages, globalization, and economy of the nation (Haskel et al. 2012). It is impossible to find clear explanations and argumentation in the book of Silver. However, she had more space for making the logics obvious in her arguments. In addition, the book does not provide any information about the financial situation within the nation, which could define the nature of workers movements.

Further, the authors of the article present three major factors influencing the development of the industries under the influence of globalization including political barriers, natural barriers, global growth of GDP, and acceleration of the international trade (Haskel et al. 2012). From this point of view, workers movements are a logical and expected phenomenon, which does not have a negative meaning for the U.S. economy in general (Smith 2014). However, the supporting argument in favor of Silver’s book is a complex approach towards accumulation of the historical arguments of the post-war period leading to the threatening activities in the business sphere. In this way, the book clearly depicts the instability of the economic environment and the inability to predict the outcomes of workers movements and labor unrest due to the financial fixes. Silver should have used more arguments and explanations that would establish of a system of facts proving the author’s comprehensive point of view on the issue.


The evaluation of the book and its content proved that the topic is important enough for the evaluation of the historical movements in the U.S. economy. The labor market has always been suffering from the influence of various factors circulating in the surrounding environment of the country. In fact, Silver’s book succeeded in collecting the facts about post-war labor movements and international relocation of the U.S. business belonging to different industries. A precise description of the industrial changes after the war reflected the risky and threatening economic environment, which led to the phenomenon of labor unrest. Nevertheless, the analysis showed that the book lacks a coherent evaluation of the factors leading business owners to the specific choices in terms of business transition. In general, the comparison of the book with the scholarly article revealed the areas requiring improvement, which could shed more light on the topic.

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