This chapter discusses some of the major theoretical perspectives in labor scholarship explaining the rise of the individual employment rights era. It identifies three key characteristics of individual employment rights that distinguish them from collective and associational forms of workplace governance. The first is an absence of a negotiation with workers regarding what is to be protected. The second critical difference is that an obligation is placed on individual workers to seek enforcement, in contrast to enforcement through representation by a workers' collective institution such as a union. Third, individual employment rights afford no prescribed role for workers in direct day-today workplace governance. The chapter also presents a basic conceptual framework for this book, the idea of mobilization bias in labor policy.
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