Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Arthur Bennet Shostak
Unlike a labor union, which is an empirical reality as a bureaucratic organization, a labor movement is a conceptual, rather than a physical, category. While its components are real (labor unions), it is a construct of people's minds. In common usage it refers to a nation's labor unions and the working class. Viewed as an ideal type (a Weberian term referring to the ideal version), it implies unity, coordination, cohesion, and, to draw on the favorite word of supporters of the concept, labor solidarity. Union leaders promote respect for the concept because it connotes strength and purpose. The idea of the existence of a labor movement gives vote-seeking politicians reason to pay favorable attention to labor's political agenda. It gives union organizers an attractive image to leverage in their ceaseless efforts to persuade the unorganized to vote to join as dues-paying members. It gives members a welcomed sense of personal ...