A Forum on the Politics of Skills

Paul Osterman, Nichola Lowe, Bridget Anderson, Joe William Trotter, Natasha Iskander, Rina Agarwala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ILR Review invited this group of scholars who work within the fields of sociology, history, and urban planning to share their perspective on the politics of skills. We called on their expertise to draw attention to the politics that drive the definition and development of skill and its use in shaping the rights and voice of workers. The essays in this forum explore the politics of skill along three lines. First, they interrogate the definition and assessment of skill, with particular attention to the ways that structural markers of social difference—such as race, gender, class, and immigration status—shape the valuation of skill. Second, they analyze the ways that the interpretation of skill is shaped by power dynamics at the worksite and in the broader economy. This line of analysis also considers possibilities for industrial renewal and labor mobilization. And third, the essays explore how skill classifications are used to narrow political and civil rights and to justify forms of exploitation and dehumanization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1348-1368
Number of pages21
JournalILR Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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