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Author ORCID Identifier
Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Economic History | Labor Economics | Labor History | United States History
This dissertation developed a more comprehensive narrative of deindustrialization as an integral part of capitalist development, rather than as a short-term response to an external shock during a specific time period. My approach to this research and my contributions to this body of literature are empirical, historical, and theoretical.
Chapter 1 of my dissertation established a new timeline for deindustrialization based on the mapping of the actual movement of auto corporations in the United States. Contrary to the literature on deindustrialization which treats the process as a 1970s phenomenon, my empirical research concludes that corporate relocation and its deindustrialization effects began at least as far back as 1940. This newly established timeline calls for a new economic history of deindustrialization and an alternative theoretical framework for understanding the process.
Chapter 2 focused specifically on Detroit and argued that we cannot rely on a 1970s rationale and narrative to explain corporate movement and the process of deindustrialization that began as far back as the 1940. My archival research on automobile manufacturers and the UAW indicated that while corporations may have moved to reduce costs, the more common motivation for migration was to evade organized labor, undermine union bargaining power and, in turn, increase control over the production process. Establishing the underlying conflict between capital and labor as the impetus for corporate movement in the Detroit area integrated well with the new historical timeline for deindustrialization and US capitalist development.
Chapter 3 emphasized how this new process of deindustrialization forces us to rewrite the history of this period, with attention to the implications of deindustrialization for the so-called capital-labor accord. In doing so, it unites labor and economic history in a critique of the capital-labor accord. Thus, in examining the economic history of deindustrialization and the reformulation of the timeline corporate movement in the United States, this chapter forced us to question the empirical validity of the capital-labor accord and argued that it must be reformulated.
Chapter 4 cuts across several research areas and contributed to our understanding of deindustrialization using the class conflict approach, integrated with the intersectionality of race and class or what I refer to as the race-class nexus. While the class conflict approach addressed the rationale for corporate relocation, the race-class nexus is used to better understand the specific manifestations of class conflict and the differential impacts of deindustrialization on black and white workers. In short, while class places workers in the direct path of deindustrialization, race ensures that black workers are more negatively impacted (than white workers), and for a longer period of time.
Allison, Jackson, "A New Economic History of Deindustrialization: Class Conflict and Race in the Motor City" (2020). Doctoral Dissertations. 1985.