Race, labor, and the twentieth-century American state

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24 Scopus citations


The author examines the federal government's civil rights promotion in labor unions, focusing in particular on the consequences of this halting, fragmented effort. After the government deflected racial politics from labor policy in the 1930s, it attempted to integrate unions not by reforming labor law but by developing new agencies and empowering federal courts. This created an institutional environment where different agencies worked at cross-purposes, and courts imposed great financial costs on unions. The result of this effort was a host of unintended consequences for unions and civil rights groups. By putting race at the center, it also suggests an alternative understanding of the twentieth-century American state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-509
Number of pages35
JournalPolitics and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations


  • American political development
  • Labor
  • Law
  • Trace


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