22 Sep 2016
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
470 Stephens Hall
Associate Professor of History, University of California, Riverside
How much life is in the living wage? In recent months, a number of major American cities have enacted minimum wage ordinances, offering urban working families a promise of better living conditions. Yet just as minimum wage laws attempt to ameliorate the conditions of low-wage workers, working communities appear under threat by shifting flows of capital and labor. This article suggests that the early history of the living wage may offer some politically useful elements. The article argues that living wage, as it emerged in the mid-nineteenth century, was bound up with scientific materialism.The works of Pierre Proudhon, Jacob Moleschott, Karl Marx, Frederich Engels and their contemporaries demonstrate that the wage question invoked both power and epistemology. The living wage has a scientific-political history. The article closes with speculations on what politics might be drawn from the history of the living wage.
Additional sponsorship comes from: CSTMS