Muckrakıng Through the Novel: Upton Sınclaır’s the Jungle and the Early Hıstory of Human Resources Management


  • Fuat MAN Sakarya University, Sakarya Business School, Human Resource Management Department, Sakarya- Türkiye



Background and Purpose: This study is based on the assumption that the novel, which is a modern narrative form, reflects the canon of the period in which it was written. In this context, the study tries to show how human resources management practices were carried out in large-scale industrial units in a period when the human resources management function was not specialized, with The Jungle novel by Upton Sinclair.
Design/Methodology/Approach: The study is based on a typology that Bruce E. Kaufman used while describing the early history of US HRM. Kaufman lists fourteen factors that characterize early HRM. One of them is the revealing activities of the Progressive movement. Therefore, the novel is considered here as a means of disclosure. Designed on this basis, the study analyses The Jungle novel around the following themes: the foreman’s empire, child labour, occupational health and safety, wages, job insecurity, career, and the blue-collar/white-collar divide.
Results: The novel shows that although the scale of manufacturing units grew in the early 1900s, human management practices were not yet institutionalized and specialized. Therefore, HRM routines are carried out with the arbitrary attitude of foremen, wages are below the natural wage level, child labour is widely used, and there is a working life full of risks in terms of occupational health and safety.
Conclusion: When the narrative of the novel about human management is read in parallel with the academic studies describing the period, the parallelism between the two narratives shows why the novels can be used as material for academic studies.

Keywords: Human resources management practices, Early history of human resources management, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle





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