Communism Is Dead, Long Live the Labor Movement?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:30
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Angelo MORO, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Italy
Recently, sociology of work has been most interested in transformations and innovations in labor mobilizations. The persistence of traditional forms of industrial conflict has been on the contrary largely ignored. Taking a historical perspective covering the last four decades, I analyze the cycles of collective action of motorcycle factory workers in a small town of Tuscany, in the middle of a region known for adhering to the "red subculture". This subculture emanates from the first peasants' mobilizations at the beginning of the 20th century, and it is based later on the local hegemony of the Italian Communist Party. After WWII, the Party, excluded from the national government, has been organizing the local civil society with the help of its tight network of associations, from the 70's getting as well the control of the local government. The local community became, therefore, a "political community" coordinated by the Party. Thus, in the late 70's the communist framework regarded virtually all workers of this territory. However, the construction of this institutional and cultural framework underwent a process of progressive bureaucratization which often limited labor unions collective action by constraining workers choices of mobilizable institutions and collective action frames. The dissolution of the Party in the early 90's and the progressive erosion of its sub-cultural background left the labor movement weakened and defenseless. Nevertheless, the workers 'culture of solidarity' has still persisted and has been transmitted to the younger generation through family and local community socialization, as I show in a recent ethnographic research of mine. Today, when workers are facing threats of delocalization and policies of labor flexibilization, we assist finally to a partial political disentanglement of the local labor movement, through a renewal of the traditional repertoire of contention as well as of resistance practices at work.