Edward C. Lorenz
Defining Global Justice offers the first comprehensive overview of the history of the United States role in the International Labor Organization (ILO). In this thought-provoking book, Edward Lorenz addresses the challenge laid down by the President of the American Political Science Association in 2000, who urged scholars to discover “how well-structured institutions could enable the world to have ‘a new birth of freedom’.” Lorenz’s study describes one model of a well-structured institution. His history of the U.S. interaction with the ILO shows how some popular organizations, from organized labor through women’s, academic, legal, and religious institutions have been able to utilize the ILO structure to counter what the APSA president called “self-serving elites and . . . their worst impulses.” These organizations succeeded repeatedly in introducing popular visions of social justice into global economic planning and the world economy.
Lorenz demonstrates the key role played by the social gospel movement, academic elites, women leaders, lawyers, and organized labor in the quest for global justice through labor standards. By underscoring the role of women in this process, he highlights the importance of gender relations in the development of labor standards policy. Lorenz also shows how transformations in the economic and social reproduction of knowledge gradually displaced academics from the cutting edge of research on labor issues.
Throughout this fascinating study, Lorenz reminds his readers that the development of decent labor standards has come in large part from the efforts of religious groups and a host of other nongovernmental, voluntary civic organizations that have insisted labor is a human activity, not a commodity.
Defining Global Justice reveals why the United States, despite showing exceptional restraint in domestic social policy making, played a leading role in the pursuit of just international labor standards. Lorenz’s lucid volume covers a century’s worth of efforts, charting the development of a body of international law and an institutional structure as important to the global economy of the twenty-first century as the battle against slavery was in the nineteenth century.
“As the first complete history of the ILO, this book by Edward C. Lorenz is important for its evidence, clear narrative and . . . theoretical contribution.” — American Historical Review
“. . . one cannot help but be impressed by the drive and vigour of Lorenz’s prose.” — Journal of Contemporary History
“This useful review of American attitudes toward international labor standards starts with World War I and the creation of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 1919. It usefully discusses the movement toward national labor standards within the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, the U.S. failure to ratify many of the ILO conventions, and the divisions within American labor on the ILO.” — Foreign Affairs
“_Defining Global Justice_ chronicles in an unusual and intriguing way the rise and eventual sequential transformations of the International Labor Organization. . . . [A] novel and very interesting history of real-life battles regarding international labor standards and an important reminder that within the traditions of our profession there once thrived a strong concern about standards of human dignity.” — EH.NET
“This volume is timely. Lorenz provides an insightful history of the U.S.’s role in the development of global labor standards through the ILO. This well-written study persuasively demonstrates that ‘well-organized groups can force the policy process to consider values, other than economic efficiency, in setting economic policies.’” — Choice
“Edward C Lorenz’s history of American involvement in the movement to establish international labor standards provides a useful look at an understudied subject. . . . Lorenz’s book will be of real help to historians and policy makers working in this area.” — Journal of American History
“. . . an intriguing story that offers insights into the evolution of international organizations and their ability to define norms of behavior. This is a valuable book in that it carefully and fully lays out the philosophical and legal arguments for labor standards and documents when they have been applied over a long period of history.” — The Journal of Economic History