Union Activists in Collective Action Fields: A Comparative Exploration

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:10
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Mario DIANI, University of Trento, Italy
This paper explores alliances between unions and other social and political organizations from a particular angle, the embeddedness of union members in broader associational milieus. Over a decade ago, Cornwell and Harrison  (2004) suggested that the decline of labor organizations in the USA corresponded, and was in many ways facilitated by, the declining involvement of their members in other types of associations. Consistently with findings from social movement research (see e.g. Diani and McAdam 2003), the embeddedness of unions in broader collective action fields was assumed to facilitate broad alliances. I expand on this work in two ways. First, I add a comparative dimension to the analysis, by looking at data from four waves of the European Values Survey in at least three countries (Germany, Italy, and the UK) and hopefully more. Second, I take into account not only data on participation in associations, but also in different types of protest activities. This information, which is usually missing from large scale surveys, comes from data gathered on the occasion of the 2003 anti-war demonstrations in several European countries as well as in the US (Diani 2009). As no single explanatory factor can be expected to account for complex processes, the comparative analysis explores in particular differences in network configurations in countries with inclusive or exclusive elite strategies, and variable salience of traditional cleavages. References: Cornwell, Benjamin, and Jill Ann Harrison. 2004. “Union Members and Voluntary Associations: Membership Overlap as a Case of Organizational Embeddedness.” American Sociological Review 69: 862–81; Diani, Mario. 2009. “The Structural Bases of Protest Events. Multiple Memberships and Networks in the February 15th 2003 Anti-War Demonstrations.” Acta Sociologica 52: 63–83; Diani, Mario, and Doug McAdam, eds. 2003. Social Movements and Networks. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.