Workshop: History of Labor Intermediation. Institutions and Individual Ways of Finding Employment (19th and Early 20th Centuries), 27.-28.11.2009, Vienna

ERC-Starting Grant-Projekt „The Production of Work” (Web)

November 27 – 28, 2009
Marietta-Blau-Saal, University of Vienna
Questions of labor market and labor intermediation have been a political concern in most European countries as well as the USA and Canada since the late 19th century. In contemporary debates, public labor exchanges were depicted as a tool to cope with the confusing complexity of labor markets and to match the supply and demand of labor more effectively.
Up to now, only a few studies have asked how public labor exchange contributed to the emergence and differentiation of nationalized labor markets. However, public labor exchange did not just coordinate or regulate a given labor market but also contributed to the historical creation of labor and the segregation of labor markets. By defining regular employment, it helped to impose a particular distinction between formal and informal (or casual) work, between an officially “real” economy and a shadow economy. It established formal criteria of classifying occupational skills and employability. Finally, it aimed at distinguishing those willing and able to work from those deemed “workshy”.
Contemporary and recent research has mostly focused on the political aims and formal regulations of labor intermediation. By contrast, we know little about how labor exchanges functioned practically and what it meant to be subjected to those practices. Moreover, it seems necessary to reflect on the impact of public labor exchange on job search and to discuss it in the context of the variety of all forms of intermediation. Public labor offices have always been only one of many possible ways of finding employment or employees, but they have not necessarily been the most commonly used one. According to contemporary and recent estimates, placement by commercial mediation, charitable organizations, trade unions or associations was quite usual as well. Moreover, informal practices of finding employment by help of kin or other social networks, newspaper ads or direct inquiries have been important practices of job search until today.
The workshop will compare practices of labor intermediation and ways of finding employment in the 19th and 20th centuries across a variety of countries.
Friday November 27, 2009
Chair: Thomas Buchner & Sigrid Wadauer
9.00 – 9.30 Sigrid Wadauer (University of Vienna), Thomas Buchner (University of Linz): Welcome and Introduction
9.30 –10.30 Ad Knotter (Sociaal Historisch Centrum voor Limburg / Maastricht University): Mediation, Allocation, Control: The Changing Faces of Labor Exchanges in Belgium and The Netherlands (Late 19th / Early 20th Centuries)

  • 10.30 –10.50 Coffee break

10.50 –11.50 Malcolm Mansfield (Université de Paris 3): The Very Idea of Labor Intermediation: The Bourses du Travail in Turn of the Century France
11.50 –12.50 Irina Vana (University of Vienna): Public Labor Offices and the Hierarchies Between Different Forms of Unemployment and Employment (1918 –1938)

  • 12.50 –14.20 Lunch break

Chair: Jessica Richter
14.20 –15.20 Verena Pawlowsky (University of Vienna), Harald Wendelin (University of Vienna): The Austrian Employment Agency for Disabled Veterans During the First World War
15.20 –16.20 David Meskill (Dowling College): Between Labor Market Constituencies: The Struggles to Establish Vocational Counseling in Weimar Germany

  • 16.20 –16.40 Coffee break

16.40 –17.40 Tamara Stazic-Wendt (University of Trier): Labor Intermediation and Welfare Practices in Rural Areas (The Southern Rhine Province, 1918 –1935)
Saturday November 28, 2009
Chair: Irina Vana
9.00 –10.00 Jan Lucassen (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam / International Institute of Social Science): Labor Mediation Among Seasonal Workers, in Particular the Lippe Brick Makers c. 1650 –1900
10.00 –11.00 Amit Kumar Mishra (University of Hyderabad, India): Sardars, Kanganies and Maistries: Intermediaries in Indian Labor Diaspora

  • 11.00 –11.20 Coffee break

11.20 –12.20 M. Erdem Kabaday (Istanbul Bilgi University): Petitioning as a Way to Find and Regain Employment at State Industrial Enterprises in the Ottoman Empire in the Late 19th Century

  • 12.20 –13.50 Lunch break

Chair: Alexander Mejstrik
13.50 –14.50 Anna G. Piotrowska (Jagiellonian University): Individual Strategies of Labor Intermediation Among Early 20th Century American and European Composers

  • 14.50 –15.10 Coffee break

15.10 –16.10 Jessica Richter (University of Vienna): Between Service, Labor and Subsistence: Self-Sustainment and Perceptions of Changes of Employment (Austria, 1918 –1938)
16.10 –16.40 Conclusion
Supported by
FWF – Fonds zur Förderung wissenschaftlicher Forschung and ERC – European Research Council
Concept & Organization
Dr. Thomas Buchner
Dr. Alexander Mejstrik
Dipl. Sozwiss. Jessica Richter, MSc
Mag.a Irina Vana
Mag. Márton Villányi Sigrid Wadauer
Production of Work
Department of Social and Economic History
University of Vienna
Maria-Theresien-Straße 9/4
A 1090 Vienna
+43 / 1 / 4277 / 41337

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