In this section, four accomplished historians revisit Herbert Gutman's famous essay, “Protestantism and the American Labor Movement.” While paying tribute to Gutman's path-breaking insights, each contributor also highlights recent work that has effectively transformed the borderlands between labor and religious history. Whereas Gutman viewed religion as a vestigial category, an inherited set of traditions that workers could adapt to their own purposes, Heath Carter discusses ongoing class contestations in the pews and pulpits of Gilded Age Chicago. Although Gutman followed the scholarship of his day in assuming a diminution of religious-based radicalism in northern industrial centers after 1900, Jarod Roll shows the opposite dynamic in the American South. Even in the North, as Janine Giordano Drake emphasizes, a radical, Jesus-based Christianity was an important ideological prop for the Socialist Party of America. In conclusion, Edward Blum ponders the questions of how the labor movement reinterpreted a classic biblical curse and why historians failed to notice.
Leon Fink; Introduction. Labor 1 May 2014; 11 (2): 11–12. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-2410966
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