Neoliberal globalization and trade unionism: Toward radical political unionism
Upchurch, M. and Mathers, A. (2012) Neoliberal globalization and trade unionism: Toward radical political unionism. Critical Sociology, 38 (2). pp. 265-280. ISSN 0896-9205
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0896920510396384
This article revisits the question of changing forms of trade unionism within the context of neoliberal globalization. While broadly accepting the argument that globalization might encourage the development of more radical forms of unionism as survival strategies, it argues that such radicalism cannot be understood satisfactorily by the term social movement unionism (SMU). This is due to over-reliance on theories of the new social movements (NSMs), which produce a largely de-classed and de-politicized perspective. The article uses insights gained from theoretical work on protest and labour movement development to bring the state back into the analysis and applies this analysis to oppositional trade union practice in a variety of institutional contexts. It concludes by making a case for understanding contemporary forms of oppositional trade union strategy through the term radical political unionism which takes account of both its social and political determinants as well as the agency role played by political leaderships.
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