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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Latin America has a long urban tradition. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, it has been more urbanized than any other region on the globe except North America, northwestern Europe, and Australia/New Zealand. This has produced large urban working classes, large labor movements, and an equally large—and by now traditional—labor historiography, particularly in Latin America itself. This article discusses trends that have shifted the focus from organized labor to workers themselves and their sociocultural world inside and outside the factory. It covers working-class formation during the second half of the nineteenth century, the influence of anarchism and socialism on labor and urban life from the 1880s to the Great Depression, the relationship of organized labor and populist regimes from the latter event to the 1960s, and the emergence since then of what has been called “new unionism,” a more politically independent and grass-roots form of labor mobilization.

Keywords: working classes, labor movements, labor historiography, anarchism, socialism, urban life

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