As labor historians try to move from nationally centered to global understandings of the development of workers’ movements and labor protest, one problem they have to deal with is the question of how to gather and assess data that has a global reach. The questions this provokes have to do with not only compatibility and representativeness, but also with the basic accuracy of the kinds of data we have traditionally used to measure labor conflict. The two interviews below (both conducted over e-mail during the fall of 2012) address different aspects of the problem of accurate, global-level data on labor conflict. Both Sjaak van der Velden and Beverly Silver have worked extensively with large data projects that aim to offer new tools for researchers researching labor conflict locally and globally. As their own projects – which they also discuss here – demonstrate, both the way in which data are gathered and the ability to manipulate data on a large scale can have a major impact on our interpretation of the patterns of labor and class conflict.
Global history, Gathering and assessing data, Measuring labour conflict, Large data projects