Global Collaboratory on the History of Labour Relations, 1500-2000

Labour relations define for or with whom one works and under what rules. These rules (implicit or explicit, written or unwritten) determine the type of work, type and amount of remuneration, working hours, degrees of physical and psychological strain, as well as the degree of freedom and autonomy associated with the work.

The Global Collaboratory on the History of Labour Relations is a collaborative effort to study labour relations in a global perspective. The project has two main goals. First, to provide statistical insights into the global distribution of all types of labour relations (systematically including women’s and child labour) in five historical cross-sections: 1500, 1650, 1800, 1900, [Africa: 1950], and 2000. Second, to explain the signalled shifts in labour relations worldwide.

During the first phase of the project (2007-2012), made possible by generous funding from the Gerda Henkel Stiftung in Düsseldorf, and additional funding from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the IISH, a large group of international scholars met during workshops, worked together online and developed a large number of datasets containing data on the occurrence of all types of labour relations in all parts of the world during five cross-sections in time, thereby also developing a new taxonomy of labour relations based on a shared set of definitions. Without the enthusiasm and not to mention the many hours of production of our collaborators who are the beating heart of this collaboratory, the project would not have been possible. In the second phase (2013-2018) we focus on the explanations for the signalled shifts in labour relations, amongst other by organising a number of workshops.

Project website:
Datasets: IISH Dataverse
Data visualisation: Treemap tool