Capital Moves: RCA's Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor


Winner of the Phillip Taft Prize for the Best Book in Labor History


"One of those books that not only teaches something new about a specific subject….it is one of those rare books that also opens up an entirely new range of ideas….”

-Jennifer Klein, Yale University

“a conceptually rich and deeply humane book [by] a rare historian who illuminates the future by explaining a vital part of the past.”

-Michael Kazin, Georgetown University

"This powerful, original book recasts our understanding of capitalism, labor, gender and geography ….Capital Moves is must reading for those who want to understand the forces that have reshaped the American and global economies over the last half century.”

-Thomas Sugrue, University of Pennsylvania

"It does not take long to recognize an excellent book, and this is one. With an innovative and successful mix of labor and business history, economic geography, and gender and community studies, Jefferson Cowie writes a complex story of capital migration, class formation, and social change.”

-Frederico Romero, Journal of American History

Capital Moves: RCA's Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor is a social history of capital migration through four communities, two countries, and a great deal of social upheaval. By showing how and why industry migrated within national boundaries before crossing them, Capital Moves shows how many of the issues we associate with globalization have historical roots deep in the twentieth century.

Before the largest companies moved beyond national boundaries, they crossed state lines, abandoning the industrial centers of the eastern seaboard for impoverished communities in the Midwest and South. By examining and comparing four cities--Camden, Bloomington, Memphis, and Ciudad Juarez--Cowie traces how the company left the decaying urban landscapes in the old sites and garnered a fresh sense of hope in the new locations. Along the way, he explains the "distances in between" each location: the social fragmentation across space that hindered a broader sense of solidarity among RCA workers.