This study was developed to examine the underlying nature of labour standards and to trace their development at the national, international and transnational levels over the course of almost two centuries. We try to provide an alternative account of the meaning of labour standards and to show how different social structures, historical events and social actions combined to frame their evolution across three geographical scales in ways far more complex, dynamic and contradictory than conventionally portrayed in the academic literature. The thesis attempts to trace the decades-long struggle for labour standards to their highest level of development in the 1970s, but it concludes, to emphasise their contradiction with the accumulation of capital, with a brief discussion of the neoliberal period when capital gained the upper hand in the class struggle and began to reverse what labour had won in the previous decades.
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Thesis advisor: Teeple, Gary
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