Chapter

Religion and the Trajectory of Labor Reform Movements

William A. Mirola

in Redeeming Time

Published by University of Illinois Press

Published in print December 2014 | ISBN: 9780252038839
Published online April 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780252096792 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.5406/illinois/9780252038839.003.0008
Religion and the Trajectory of Labor Reform Movements

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This concluding chapter discusses the theoretical implications of Protestant engagement with the eight-hour movement for developing a broader understanding of the possibilities and constraints surrounding religion as a basis for activism around economic and industrial issues. Protestant beliefs underlying moralities of work and leisure permeated the culture of life in nineteenth-century Chicago. Clergy constructed their responses to the principle of shorter hours around them. Workers also constructed religious understandings of the eight-hour system out of this common religious language. However, shared religious understandings of industrial conditions and community life are only a beginning for movements seeking to mobilize the religious community as an ally. Differences in how those beliefs were interpreted by clergy and workers as well as differing understandings of their implications for economic life meant that efforts to transform religious ideas into practical reform efforts would face serious obstacles.

Keywords: eight-hour movement; activism; industrial issues; Protestant beliefs; eight-hour system; religious language; religious community

Chapter.  6311 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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