Call for Papers

The transformation of work and concepts of labour, the movement of workers within and between countries, and changes in how people obtain work are significant trends in many contemporary economies. While they may appear to be new developments, these processes have historical roots and precedents. With the increasing use of historical data in economics and the return of labour to the forefront of economic history, the time is ripe for discussion and collaboration between labour historians, economic historians, and labour economists.

The empirical turn in economics has led to new research related to labour and work including the use of historical case studies. At the same time, the high-wage economy interpretation of the Industrial Revolution has put workers and wages at the forefront of economic history, and historians of capitalism have advanced the importance of labour repression, especially slavery, as a cause of modern economic growth. The Oxford Conference on Labour in History and Economics will bring together scholars from these disciplines to share research, perspectives, and methodologies.

We seek papers that speak to both the scholar’s discipline and to colleagues in the other disciplines, preferably touching on the themes of migration, regulation, and the work environment. For example, we hope to see papers from economists which use historical data or engage themes relevant to economic history and/or labour history. Economic history papers may use econometric and/or qualitative methods to link with either or both of the other disciplines. Submissions on labour history might incorporate ideas from labour economics and economics more generally, or speak to persistent themes in the social sciences. Papers that discuss issues of intersectionality, including race, gender, and class, are encouraged, and we welcome submissions that study female, child, and non-white labourers.

Potential panels include:

  • Workers’ decision-making in migration and job searches
  • Supervisory structures and discipline
  • Effects of labour regulation on work experience
  • Impacts of occupations on health and well-being
  • Measuring employer power in labour markets
  • Worker and employer bargaining strategies
  • Definitions of work, labour, and the labour market
  • Intersections of gender, race, and class in experiences of labour

We are delighted to have two distinguished keynote speakers: Professor Jill Rubery (Manchester) and Professor Fabrice Bensimon (Paris-Sorbonne). Professor Rubery is a labour economist who has published widely on topics of work and health, particularly from a gender perspective. Professor Bensimon is a historian of labour and migration with expertise on work in Britain and movements of people between Europe and the British Isles. Together they represent the wide variety of topics and approaches we look forward to hearing from during this conference.

Scholars interested in presenting at the conference are asked to send an abstract of no more than 500 words and a brief (1–2 page) CV to oxfordlabourconference@gmail.com by 14 December 2018. Co-authored papers are welcomed, and we strongly encourage submissions from graduate students and researchers from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.

The conference will be held on 15–16 April 2019 at Oxford.

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