Research News

Daniel Galvin Receives Russell Sage Award

Political scientist to study changing politics of workers' rights

Daniel Galvin

IPR political scientist Daniel Galvin will examine the evolution of labor politics and workers' rights.

IPR political scientist Daniel Galvin recently received a Presidential Authority Award from the Russell Sage Foundation, the U.S.’ premier foundation devoted to social science research, to study the evolution of labor politics and workers’ rights since the 1960s.

With the award, which is also supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, he will examine how the politics of workers’ rights has changed even as national labor laws have remained essentially unchanged for the past 80 years.

“I’m looking at how New Deal-era labor laws–which are still on the books, despite becoming increasingly antiquated and even counterproductive in many ways—have shaped and channeled the efforts of workers and their advocates to assert their rights, organize collectively, and redress the widening power asymmetry in the workplace,” Galvin explained. 

He contends that a new politics of workers’ rights has emerged that uses new channels for collective action, self-organization, and political activism. He will use data on state-level employment law, labor organizations, and interviews with workers’ advocates in Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., to assess three major developments: the gradual shift in workplace governance from national to state-level employment law; the expansion and adaptation of labor unions’ political and organizational repertoires; and the growth of “alt-labor” organizations.

“Alt-labor has emerged to provide critical advocacy and organizational support for many workers left behind by outmoded labor law amid major economic change,” he said.

Galvin’s project builds upon his earlier work on how public policies can reduce the incidence of wage theft and his interest in how institutional and organizational changes shape workplace governance and labor politics.

“Russell Sage has helped to generate so much of what we know about rising social, economic, and political inequality, the changing nature of work and declining quality of jobs, and the role of public policies in addressing these problems—and a lot of that research has inspired my current work,” Galvin said.

Daniel Galvin is associate professor of political science and an IPR fellow.