Sociologists and the Labour Movement: Between East and West
While a tradition of creative engagement between worker intellectuals and academic researchers in Western Europe has been documented recently (cf Stewart and Martinez Lucio, 2011) a similar trajectory in Central and Eastern Europe remains largely unexplored. The contrasts and continuities between both regions forms the core of this paper. We examine and compare the different historical experiences of worker intellectuals and the academy in Poland the UK, indentifying the re-emergence of a pattern of engagement not only within traditional sectors of the working class but also among the new, precarious workforce, including migrant workers (UK) and agency workers (Poland). We argue that this engagement can be characterised on the basis of different and historically dependent patterns of institutionalisation of the sociology of labour in these countries. Moreover, this in turn can be derived from the fate of the historical relationship between labour (in its different forms) and organic intellectuals. We draw examples from the experience of union organising and workers in the UK and Poland amongst new and emerging workforces where the tradition of labour movement activity has been historically weak (or nonexistent).
The authors are either directly or indirectly participating in FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network Programme “Changing Employment”. This is providing a novel opportunity to link international funding opportunities in such a way as to foster cooperation between labour and academia.