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British artisan unions in the New World

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The processes by which trade unions encouraged emigration by their members, and then established branches in the countries where they settled, provide an extreme example of the organizational sophistication of early trade unions. The two major unions involved were the two largest nationally-organized bodies in the period, and by 1910 the overseas branches provided a significant proportion of total membership. The detailed process of branch foundation is an interesting example of spatial diffusion. Given the clear centrifugal forces which led to the eventual separation of the overseas branches, the obvious question is why such networks were ever established, or survived so long. It is argued that an answer can only be found through an understanding of the importance of welfare benefits in early unions. “The society extended to Australia, India, America, Canada and other parts of the world. It might be said of the Society, as it had been said of the British Empire itself, that the sun never set on its might”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-182
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1989

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