Plzeňské sympozia

Stanislav Knob

From Spontaneous Movement to Conference Table. Strikes During the long 19th Century

pp. 71–79 (Czech), Summary p. 80 (English)

This essay offers a survey of basic data on the strike movement in the 19th century. Rather than concentrating on statistical data though, it deals with gradual transformations of strike actions, examining their linkage with the social question at large through the process of economic, political and social changes during the period under survey. The  author centers his attention on the impact of strike actions as themost potent vehicle of pressure employed by the working class. In his view, the strike movement went through a transformation from spontaneous, illegal action to an organized form of pressure which came to be applied by labour organizations (including most notably trades  unions) with a view to strengthening their positions in dealing with employers and the government. Progressively,  other forms of pressure (e.g., public meetings, or resolutions) were sought, as well as instruments of social conciliation by way of what came to be known as institutionalization of conflicts (through collective contracts or arbitration). According to Hans Ulrich Wehler, this latter element constituted one of the seminal sub-processes of modernization. Hence the inclusion of this type of change within the broader context of the general process of modernization.

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