Land, Livelihoods, and the Decline of Work: South African Lessons for Current Debates

  • Ben Scully Johns Hopkins University

Abstract

This article presents a comparison of central debates in South African labor sociology in the1970s and the contemporary era. I argue that scholars can break through impasses in currentlabor sociology debates by reviving attention to the land-labor-livelihood (LLL) connections thatinspired theoretical advancements in the South African literature of the 1970s. After anintroduction and definition of LLL connections, the paper analyzes an exemplary work of thelabor literature of the 1970s, giving special attention to the way in which the LLL focus shapedthe questions asked by the authors. The article proceeds to a review of central debates from thecurrent labor literature, which focuses primarily on issues of the labor movement. It is arguedthat this focus on movements has limited the scope of labor scholarship, resulting in an impassein South African labor debates. An emerging literature that renews attention to the LLLconnections is proposed as a model for moving beyond this impasse. I close the article bydiscussing the implications for this review of South African literature for global laborscholarship.
Published
2012-02-26
How to Cite
Scully, B. (2012). Land, Livelihoods, and the Decline of Work: South African Lessons for Current Debates. Journal of World-Systems Research, 18(1), 90-102. https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2012.486
Section
Land Rights in the World-System