Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

‘The skilful unskilled labourer’: The Decline of Artisanal Discourses of Skill in the NSW Arbitration Court, 1905-15

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2007), 93, (1), 73–86.

Abstract

For several centuries artisanal meanings dominated Anglophone discourse on skill. By the start of the twentieth century this dominance was being eroded. The records of the New South Wales Arbitration Court show that older artisanal meanings were losing the credibility that they used to have and were being contested by new understandings of skill more attuned to the commodified labour regime of industrial capitalism. Heydon’s apparent oxymoron reflected his position as a mediator of these changes, trying to balance the historical stability presented by artisanal classifications, with the taxonomy that was developing to describe new and more-intensively commodified industrial realities.

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Author details

Maddison, Ben

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