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Strikes as Sequences of Interaction: The American Strike Wave of 1886

Strikes as Sequences of Interaction: The American Strike Wave of 1886 Theories of strikes—or any kind of conflict—are theories of interaction. Marxists envisage class conflict as a dialectical struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie. Neoclassical economists imagine strikes as an unintended consequence of bargaining between rational actors. The tumult of class conflict is far removed from the quiet of rational bargaining, yet these theories are alike in this respect: strikes ensue from dyadic interaction. Adding political authorities to the dyad of workers and employers extends interaction to three sets of actors. Social Science History 26:3 (fall 2002). Copyright © 2002 by the Social Science History Association. 584 Social Science History In theory this interaction is clear. Nevertheless, as Roberto Franzosi (1995: 17) emphasizes, ‘‘strategic interactions among the players involved have been lost in the literature.’’ In statistical analysis, strikes are conceived of as the outcome of a linear combination of independent variables, which are interpreted as the determinants of workers’ decisions. By implication, strikes are unilateral acts by workers alone. David Card and Craig Olson (1995) are exceptional for modeling the duration and outcome of strikes as the result of decisions on both sides. Labor historians, too, focus on workers. The ‘‘consciousness’’ of the working class is dissected and debated http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Social Science History Duke University Press

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