The Politics of Strikes: Strike Movements and Social Movements in a Global Perspective

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Peter BIRKE, Soziologisches Forschungsinstitut Goettingen an der Georg August Universitaet, Germany
Whether new organisations of informal workers in much of Asia, wildcat strikes in textile factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam, the crucial role of trade unions for the Arab spring in Tunisia and Egypt, mass strikes in emerging economies like China, Brazil and South Africa or the wave of general strikes that hit Europe after the crisis in 2008 – the new forms of strikes and workers organisations across the globe are widespread. But they also differ a lot concerning their political orientations, relationships with state institutions and the general social conditions in which they operate. This paper examines the interrelation of strike movements and social movements in the framework of an international comparison. It is based on a book project on the politics of worker’s resistance against neoliberal politics in 15 countries around the world (edited with Madhumita Dutta, Ohio State University and Jörg Nowak, City University of Hong Kong). The paper will compare strategies of workers struggles and social movements in four countries: Germany, India, Brazil, and China. Based on this comparison, the diffusion of social movement strategies within strike movements will be discussed. Finally, the notion of the “political” strike will be revisited: In which sense can current strike movements in those four countries currently be considered as anti-systemic movements (Wallerstein) and what does this notion mean in the four named cases?