The Value of Injury: Workplace Accidents, Capitalism, and Law in the Progressive Era
Fall 2017 Legal History Workshop
- Nathaniel (Nate) Holdren
Program in Law, Politics, and SocietyDrake University
Scholars generally consider workers’ compensation laws, created in the 1910s, as a Progressive Era success story. In my book I argue instead that these laws created new forms of inequality by lowering the value of wage-earning women’s injuries and by encouraging employers to fire disabled employees. I further argue that these laws led the legal system to abandon employee injury as a subject of moral and political deliberation, by replacing courtroom practices of narration and argument with insurance-industry derived tools and concepts like actuarial tables. Ultimately, I want readers to consider the limits of compensation laws and to wonder what it would mean to have a truly humane legal response to injury.
Note: This is a discussion based workshop of work-in-progress with the expectation that those attending have read the workshop materials. Please contact Jacquelyn E. Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the materials.