To Investigate Union Work: Between Professionalization Processes and Vocation, Union Organizations and Their Members at the Origin for Redressing Inequalities or of Their (re)Production?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Mailys GANTOIS, Université Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne, France
Damien BOONE, University of Lille 2, France
Trade Unions in most of democratic countries are at the origin social processes of “democratization” in employment conditions. In which conditions and how unionists could appear at the origin of social change? What are they doing to shape social spaces? In which conditions and how could they reduce social inequalities? Through a socio-historical and ethnographic work on collective bargaining studied as a social activity and from actors’ point of view and social situations locally and geographically situated, Gantois demonstrated that collective bargaining constitutes an institutional device at the origin of the production and the reproduction of socio-economic inequalities in working establishments. It also constitutes a tool used by unionists and employers to change their positions and to shape claims in union and political fields. Through an anthropological work on state democratization processes focus on childhood, Boone showed how state devices shape forms of political socialization for citizens in “democratic countries”. After works on collective bargaining and on political socialization processes, we studied union work inside and outside unions during one year to better understand social conditions and forms of politicization of the making of union claim for social change. Our survey in one of the most important French union (Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail, CFDT) mobilised tools of sociology and ethnography to investigate the making of union claim from working and social situations identified by unionists as “unequal” or “unfair”. We will describe and analyse union work for the making of – or not – union claims in working establishments in front of employers and, more broadly, in public and political spaces in relationships with association members and politician makers. This proposal will shed light on conditions and constraints of the work of unionists to identify social situations as “unequal” until to (or not) transform them to reduce social inequalities.