In recent decades, the working class as it was once conceived has lost its paradigmatic place in labor history along with the nineteenth-century struggles from which it emerged. This essay surveys what the Working Class in American History book series has taught us about class in the age of cotton, coal, and steel, reviews the major criticisms of the concept of the working class on which it was founded, and reconsiders what its nineteenth-century subjects still have to say. The essay concludes with a call to reclaim a more capacious conception of class as a political formation based on property relations, describing at once a prospect, a project, and a perspective with labor at its core.

You do not currently have access to this content.