The Consequences of Culture: Legal History, Labor Law, and the Contributions of Christopher Tomlins



This article reviews three books on labor law written by Christopher Tomlins. They are, in order of publication, The State and the Unions: Labor Relations, Law, and the Organized Labor Movement in America, 1880–1960 (1985); Law, Labor, and Ideology in the Early American Republic (1993); and Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580–1865 (2010). Tomlins has been an influential figure in the movement known as “critical legal studies” and has helped shape a new approach to the field of labor history, labor law, and the study of US workers. Over the span of twenty-five years, Tomlins's research has been central to evolving theories of law and social interaction and has continuing relevance to more recent scholarly developments such as the field of “cultural cognition” studies.