The Concept of Wage Slavery
Wage slavery refers to a situation where a person's livelihood depends on wages, especially when the dependence is total and immediate. It is a negatively connoted term used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor, and to highlight similarities between owning and employing a person. The term 'wage slavery' has been used to criticize economic exploitation and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labor and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops), and the latter as a lack of workers' self-management (which criticizes the job choices that an economy allows). The criticism of social stratification covers a wider range of employment choices bound by the pressures of a hierarchical social environment (i.e. working for a wage not only under threat of starvation or poverty, but also of social stigma or status diminution).
Similarities between wage labor and slavery were noted at least as early as Cicero. Before the American Civil War, Southern defenders of African American slavery invoked the concept to favorably compare the condition of their slaves to workers in the North. With the advent of the industrial revolution, thinkers such as Proudhon and Marx elaborated the comparison between wage labor and slavery in the context of a critique of property not intended for active personal use.
The introduction of wage labor in 18th century Britain was met with resistance – giving rise to the principles of syndicalism. Historically, some labor organizations and individual social activists, have espoused workers' self-management or worker cooperatives as possible alternatives to wage labor.
Read more about this topic: Refusal Of Work
Famous quotes containing the words slavery, concept and/or wage:
“I foresee the time when the painter will paint that scene, no longer going to Rome for a subject; the poet will sing it; the historian record it; and, with the Landing of the Pilgrims and the Declaration of Independence, it will be the ornament of some future national gallery, when at least the present form of slavery shall be no more here. We shall then be at liberty to weep for Captain Brown. Then, and not till then, we will take our revenge.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“I was thinking what an interesting concept it is to eliminate the writer from the artistic process. If we can just get rid of these actors and directors, maybe we got something here.”
—Michael Tolkin, U.S. screenwriter, and Robert Altman. Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins)
“It is the women of Europe who pay the price while war rages, and it will be the women who will pay again when war has run its bloody course and Europe sinks down into the slough of poverty like a harried beast too spent to wage the fight. It will be the sonless mothers who will bend their shoulders to the plough and wield in age-palsied hands the reaphook.”
—Kate Richards OHare (18771948)