Thomas Lineham wants both to describe and defend, or at least make skeptics understand, the role of worker violence (a protean word) in eighteenth- and nineteenth- century labor disputes. He exploits primary sources like union publications and much secondary writing, framed by sociological theory. He is writing against a long tradition of labor historiography that either wholly ignored, deplored, minimized, or attributed to the “primitive” state of collective bargaining the rough justice dealt to scabs and to traitors, who broke solemn promises to their mates and crossed picket lines. The book moves from an analysis of verbal violence, through the ritualized humiliation of “rough music,” including stang-riding, tarring, half-drowning, stripping naked in public (often by women), and parading men with their coats reversed to signify turncoats. Finally, stone-throwing, savage beatings, threats with firearms, and the destruction of strikebreakers’ houses and household goods are tied to lost strikes and the tactics...
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Book Review| March 01 2020
Scabs and Traitors: Taboo, Violence and Punishment in Labour Disputes in Britain, 1760–1871 by Thomas Lineham
Scabs and Traitors: Taboo, Violence and Punishment in Labour Disputes in Britain, 1760–1871. Lineham, Thomas.
2018. xiv + 226 pp., £72.00 (cloth); £23.99 (paper)
Labor (2020) 17 (1): 150–151.
Douglas Hay; Scabs and Traitors: Taboo, Violence and Punishment in Labour Disputes in Britain, 1760–1871 by Thomas Lineham. Labor 1 March 2020; 17 (1): 150–151. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-7962973
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