Frontiers of Labor

Comparative Histories of the United States and Australia

How workers' experience in two countries illuminates important issues in labor history

Alike in many aspects of their histories, Australia and the United States diverge in striking ways when it comes to their working classes, labor relations, and politics.

Greg Patmore and Shelton Stromquist curate innovative essays that use transnational and comparative analysis to explore the two nations’ differences. The contributors examine five major areas: World War I’s impact on labor and socialist movements; the history of coerced labor; patterns of ethnic and class identification; forms of working-class collective action; and the struggles related to trade union democracy and independent working-class politics. Throughout, many essays highlight how hard-won transnational ties allowed Australians and Americans to influence each other’s trade union and political cultures.

Contributors: Robin Archer, Nikola Balnave, James R. Barrett, Bradley Bowden, Verity Burgmann, Robert Cherny, Peter Clayworth, Tom Goyens, Dianne Hall, Benjamin Huf, Jennie Jeppesen, Marjorie A. Jerrard, Jeffrey A. Johnson, Diane Kirkby, Elizabeth Malcolm, Patrick O’Leary, Greg Patmore, Scott Stephenson, Peta Stevenson-Clarke, Shelton Stromquist, and Nathan Wise

“The essays in this volume make a splendid contribution to the important fields of US and Australian labor history.”--Neville Kirk, author of Labour and the Politics of Empire: Britain and Australia 1900 to the Present

“Historians cannot do experiments with history, but we can do the functional equivalent by way of comparative history. This excellent collection compares Australian and US workplace experiences. We expect the differences; these sophisticated labor historians also attend to the surprising extent of ‘commonalities,’ which seem to have grown over time.”--Melanie Nolan, editor of Revolution: The 1913 Great Strike in New Zealand


Greg Patmore is a professor of business and labour history and chair of the Business and Labour History Group and Co-operative Research Group in the School of Business at the University of Sydney. His books include Worker Voice: Employee Representation in the Workplace in Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK, and the US, 1914–1939. Shelton Stromquist is professor emeritus of history at the University of Iowa. He is the author of a number of books including Reinventing"'the People": The Progressive Movement, the Class Problem, and the Origins of Modern Liberalism.

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