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The Daily Grind

How Workers Navigate the Employment Relationship

Marquita R. Walker

The Daily Grind:How WorkersNavigate the Employment Relationship introduces students to the tensions between labor and management within the U.S. employment relationship and explores how workers, operating in a socially and culturally structured system of capitalism, are influenced and manipulated by economic institutions and polity which exploit, devalue, and dehumanize workers in the name of corporate profit. The text covers how the American work ethic of the early nineteenth century helped shape the current perspective on the labor-management relationship, and how, over time, the Protestant and patriarchal influences of that period have countered the collective actions of workers in profound ways. The text further explores the effect of societal, cultural, and economic structures, both global and local, which limit workers’ ability to achieve the "American Dream" and result in depressed economic conditions and discouraged workers. The text’s focus on the current economic inequality and lack of social mobility challenges the current neoliberal ideology that capitalism is the best economic system.

The overarching framework for
The Daily Grind: How Workers Navigate the Employment Relationship is situated in Labor Process Theory (LPT) which explores the control and resistance dichotomy between labor and management, the systematic deskilling of the workforce in order to increase production and increase owners’ profits, and examines conflict over control of the labor process. An extension of Marxist theory about the organization of work, LPT explores the employment relationship, the control of work, the payment of work, the skills necessary for work, and the facilitation of work.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 270Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-9333-4 • Hardback • October 2014 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-1-4985-0662-5 • Paperback • March 2017 • $46.99 • (£31.95)
978-0-7391-9334-1 • eBook • October 2014 • $43.99 • (£29.95)
Marquita R. Walker is associate professor of labor studies in the School of Social Work at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
The Daily Grind: How Workers Navigate the Employment Relationship
Table of Contents
About the Author
Chapter 1: An Overview of the Field of Labor Studies

  1. What is Labor Studies?
  2. The American Work Ethic
  3. Workers, Culture and Social Class
  4. Worker’s Place in the Social Structure
  5. Labor’s Place in the Social Structure
Chapter 2: Employment Relations in Historical Perspective, 1870-1935
  1. The First and Second Industrial Revolutions
  2. Union Formation and Strikes
  3. Social Environment: Early 20th Century
  4. Court Decision, Legislation, and Public Opinion
Chapter 3: Employment Relations in Historical Perspective, 1935-present
  1. Changing of the Guard
  2. The New Deal
  3. WWII Begins
  4. Labor in Crisis and Transition
  5. Labor’s Structural and Organizational Response
Chapter 4: Theoretical Models Associated with the Labor Movement
A. The Compulsory Nature of Unionism
B. Theories of the Labor Movement
C. Social Movement Unionism
D. Militancy and Social Movements
Chapter 5: The Current State of the U.S. Employment Relationship
A. Poverty, Wealth and Income Inequities, and Equality versus Equity
B. Poverty in the U.S.
C. Wealth and Income Inequality
D. Policies to Alleviate Poverty: Minimum Wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit
E. Equality versus Equity: The Role of Fairness
Chapter 6: The Evolution of the Employment Relationship

  1. Standard and Nonstandard Employment Relationships
  2. The Nature of the Employment Relationship
  3. Employment Relationships over Time
  4. Job Insecurity in Employment Relationships
  5. Globalization’s Effect on Workers
Chapter 7: Compensation for American Workers
A. Time-oriented versus Task-oriented Labor
B. Human, Social, and Cultural Capital
C. Work versus Leisure
D. American Workers and Leave Time
E. Wage Theft
Chapter 8: Race and Ethnicity in the Employment Relationship
A. Definitions of Race and Ethnicity
B. Racial and Ethnic Immigration Flows
C. Causes and Continuations of Racial and Ethnic Disparities
Chapter 9: Gender and the Employment Relationship
A. Brief History of Women’s Devalued Status
B. Women’s Participation in the Labor Force
C. Women as Primary Care-givers
C. Wage Disparities Resulting from Gender
D. Gender Discrimination in the Workplace
E. Gender Disparities in Unions
Marquita Walker is unflaggingly pro-worker. She keeps her eye on the central theme of working people’s experience as she tackles the big questions of what creates an economy and the history of production. This is an ambitious, comprehensive work that puts the employment relationship in its legal and historical context. The 50-page glossary is in itself a great resource.
Helena Worthen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign