Skip to main content

Killing Unions with Culture: Institutions, Inequality, and the Effects of Labor’s Decline in the United States

Abstract

This essay examines the relationship between culture, inequality, and organized labor in the United States. We argue that America’s exceptional cultural values are the key to falling union membership density and rising inequality. Cultural attitudes originated with the process of colonization in this country, particularly the embedded social structures that defined regimes of slavery and impeded the development of general trust. Citizens orient themselves toward policy positions depending on their “cultural cognition.” Culture determines our world views and political leanings. Research shows that attitudes about collective action and social justice versus individual efficacy and social hierarchy predict policy choices. We offer historical and quantitative evidence to support our argument.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Raymond L. Hogler.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hogler, R.L., Hunt, H.G. & Weiler, S. Killing Unions with Culture: Institutions, Inequality, and the Effects of Labor’s Decline in the United States. Employ Respons Rights J 27, 63–79 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10672-014-9257-y

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10672-014-9257-y

Keywords

  • Labor unions
  • Collective bargaining
  • Inequality
  • Cultural cognition
  • Tax policy
  • Right to work
  • Trust