Working Women, Working Men

Sao Paulo & the Rise of Brazil’s Industrial Working Class, 1900–1955

Working Women, Working Men

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: Published: May 1993

Author: Joel Wolfe

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies > Brazil

In Working Women, Working Men, Joel Wolfe traces the complex historical development of the working class in Sào Paulo, Brazil, Latin America's largest industrial center. He studies the way in which Sào Paulo's working men and women experienced Brazil's industrialization, their struggles to gain control over their lives within a highly authoritarian political system, and their rise to political prominence in the first half of the twentieth century.
Drawing on a diverse range of sources—oral histories along with union, industry, and government archival materials—Wolfe's account focuses not only on labor leaders and formal Left groups, but considers the impact of grassroots workers' movements as well. He pays particular attention to the role of gender in the often-contested relations between leadership groups and thee rank and file. Wolfe's analysis illuminates how various class and gender ideologies influenced the development of unions, industrialists' strategies, and rank-and-file organizing and protest activities.
This study reveals how workers in Sào Paulo maintained a local grassroots social movement that, by the mid–1950s, succeeded in seizing control of Brazil's state-run official unions. By examining the actions of these workers in their rise to political prominence in the 1940s and 1950s, this book provides a new understanding of the sources and development of populist politics in Brazil.


“Wolfe takes a candid look at the Brazilian working-class movement through his study of the Sao Paulo textile and metal workers viewed from the perspective of the factory-level organizations created by workers to confront emplyers. [He] skillfully brings together extensive documentary and oral history sources uncovering evidence that questions. . .myths that Brazilian labor scholarship has been reluctant to expose. . . . In the context of current Brazilian labor scholarship few studies have so critically looked into the dynamics of the labor movement like this book has, and because of this it should become a reference for future studies.” — Salvador A. M. Sandoval, Labor History

"No area has been so misunderstood by foreign researchers as labor and union history in Brazil. This book sets high standards for any new studies on Brazil, Latin America, or even the rest of the world." — Michael L. Conniff, Auburn University

"This is an excellent book, based on an impressive amount of research. It is a valuable and pathbreaking contribution to the historical study of class formation, gender, and the politics of industrial workers in South America's most important industrial center." — Thomas Holloway, Cornell University


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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1347-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1330-4
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