For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Formal organization and the fate of social movements: Craft association and class alliance in the Knights of Labor"

by Conell, Carol; Voss, Kim (1990)


This paper asks how an existing field of formal organizations influences the formation of social movements around new interests. Data on the Knights of Labor are used to examine how craft organization in the iron and steel industry affected the incorporation of industrial workers into the labor movement. We find that even in the absence of ideological opposition to class-based organization, building on craft associations tended to create a divided and limited labor movement. This study suggests that pre-existing organization can simultaneously help emerging interest groups organize and reinforce the traditional divisions that segment these emerging interest groups.


Knights Of Labor, Labor Union, Unionism, History, Social Movement


Knights of Labor

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