Movements on the Job: Theorizing Strikes and Workplace Protest in Comparative Context

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:00-10:30
Location: Hörsaal 16 (Main Building)
RC44 Labor Movements (host committee)

Language: English

Can workers still act collectively in the workplace to achieve lasting change? The strike has long been recognized as one of the most important ways that workers’ movements can mobilize to exercise power. Strike theory, however, is badly in need of an overhaul. Emerging in the post-World War Two era along with the institutionalization of collective bargaining in advanced capitalist countries, it viewed strikes as a routinized tactic within mature systems of Fordist industrial relations. 
As workplaces have changed and those systems have experienced varying levels of decline, the power of the traditional strike has been challenged. Yet some unions have continued to win notable victories, new forms of job-based action have emerged, and there has been an upsurge of militancy in developing countries without a broad base or history of institutionalized collective bargaining. 
These events highlight the changing forms and meanings of workplace mobilization, and call for a revival of theory from a broader comparative perspective. Among the questions to be considered on this session are: 

  • What legal and institutional conditions, including state tolerance or repression, shape forms of workplace collective action in different contexts?
  • What forms of economic, political, or symbolic leverage or power can workers exercise through different forms of action? 
  • And what kind of conceptual frameworks do we need in order to develop more comparative analyses of strike mobilization and a better understanding of recent events?
Session Organizer:
Chris RHOMBERG, Fordham University, USA
Chris RHOMBERG, Fordham University, USA
Different Demands, Varying Responses: Local Government Responses to Strikes in China
Yujeong YANG, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA; Wei CHEN, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
Workers' Militancy in the South African Mining Sector, 2009-Present
Immanuel NESS, City University of New York, Brooklyn College, USA
Is Neo-Liberalism the Best Strategy to Manage Capital-Labor Conflict? the Italian and Chinese Cases
Katia PILATI, University of Trento, Italy; Sabrina PERRA, University of Cagliari, Italy
Taming Class Conflict? Industrial Peace Policy and Workers' Strike in the Philippines from 2001 to Present
Jessica VILIRAN, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Philippines; Jane SIWA, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights Manila, Philippines
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