Wage slavery is a term describing a situation in which a person's livelihood depends on wages or a salary, especially when the dependence is total and immediate. It has been used to criticise exploitation of labour and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labour and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops) and the latter as a lack of workers' self-management, fulfilling job choices and leisure in an economy. The criticism of social stratification covers a wider range of employment choices bound by the pressures of a hierarchical society to perform otherwise unfulfilling work that deprives humans of their "species character" not only under threat of starvation or poverty, but also of social

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  • Wage slavery is a term describing a situation in which a person's livelihood depends on wages or a salary, especially when the dependence is total and immediate. It has been used to criticise exploitation of labour and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labour and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops) and the latter as a lack of workers' self-management, fulfilling job choices and leisure in an economy. The criticism of social stratification covers a wider range of employment choices bound by the pressures of a hierarchical society to perform otherwise unfulfilling work that deprives humans of their "species character" not only under threat of starvation or poverty, but also of social stigma and status diminution. Historically, some socialist organisations and activists have espoused workers' self-management or worker cooperatives as possible alternatives to wage labour. Similarities between wage labour and slavery were noted as early as Cicero in Ancient Rome, such as in De Officiis. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, thinkers such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Karl Marx elaborated the comparison between wage labour and slavery, while Luddites emphasised the dehumanisation brought about by machines. The introduction of wage labour in 18th-century Britain was met with resistance, giving rise to the principles of syndicalism. Before the American Civil War, Southern defenders of African American slavery invoked the concept of wage slavery to favourably compare the condition of their slaves to workers in the North. The United States abolished slavery after the Civil War, but labour union activists found the metaphor useful – according to historian Lawrence Glickman, in the Gilded Age "[r]eferences abounded in the labour press, and it is hard to find a speech by a labour leader without the phrase". (en)
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  • Wage slavery is a term describing a situation in which a person's livelihood depends on wages or a salary, especially when the dependence is total and immediate. It has been used to criticise exploitation of labour and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labour and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops) and the latter as a lack of workers' self-management, fulfilling job choices and leisure in an economy. The criticism of social stratification covers a wider range of employment choices bound by the pressures of a hierarchical society to perform otherwise unfulfilling work that deprives humans of their "species character" not only under threat of starvation or poverty, but also of social (en)
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  • Wage slavery (en)
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