At a time when communal ties in American society are increasingly frayed and segregation persists, the workplace is more than ever the site where Americans from different ethnic, religious, and racial backgrounds meet and forge serviceable and sometimes lasting bonds. What do these highly structured workplace relationships mean for a society still divided by gender and race? The involuntariness of workplace interactions--prescribed by both external law and internal constraints--helps ensure that the often-troubled and often-failed project of racial integration succeeds at work. People can be forced to get along--not without friction, but with surprising success.
This highly original exploration of the paradoxical nature--and the paramount importance--of workplace bonds concludes with concrete suggestions for how law can further realize the democratic possibilities of working together. In linking workplace integration and connectedness beyond work, Estlund suggests a novel and promising strategy for addressing the most profound challenges facing American society.
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Cynthia Estlund is a leading scholar of labor and employment law and workplace governance. Her new book, A New Deal for China’s Workers? (forthcoming, 2016), takes a comparative look at labor unrest and reform in China. In her previous book, Regoverning the Workplace: From Self-Regulation to Co-Regulation (2010), she chronicled the current crisis of workplace governance in the US and charted a potential path forward. Her first book, Working Together: How Workplace Bonds Strengthen a Diverse Democracy (2003), argued that the workplace is a site of both comparatively successful integration and intense cooperation, and explored the implications for democratic theory and for the law of work.
Other writings focus on freedom of speech and procedural fairness at work; diversity, integration, and affirmative action; critical perspectives on labor law; and transnational labor rights and regulation. Before joining NYU School of Law in 2006, Estlund taught at the University of Texas and Columbia Law School. Estlund graduated summa cum laude from Lawrence University in 1978. She earned her JD at Yale Law School in 1983.