Labour and Populism: Trajectories, Dilemmas, and Opportunities

Friday, 20 July 2018: 08:30-10:20
RC44 Labor Movements (host committee)

Language: English

In the years following the financial crisis of 2008, labour movements have been placed largely on the defensive as employers found opportunity to press for concessionary demands and governments embarked on neoliberal austerity programs to reduce expenditures and instill labour discipline. At the same time, populist discourses and movements have arisen on the right and left of the political spectrum in the wake of both a widespread sense of popular disenchantment with political and economic elites and concerns over rising inequality. In this context, populism has both given legitimacy to austerity measures and served as a direct challenge to austerity. This panel will explore intersections of labour and populism, considering the trajectories of populist discourses and movements, as well as the strategic dilemmas and opportunities these create for labour movements. In what ways do these connections present key challenges for labour movements in terms of collective organizing, representation, and bargaining? How have labour movements sought to embrace populism (both right and left variants) as a survival strategy or as a means to challenge austerity? In what ways may populist approaches foster new forms of labour organizing and representation? We encourage papers that theorize the current populist moment through the lens of labour, as well as case studies of the interaction between labour and populism.
Session Organizer:
Mark THOMAS, York University, Canada
Kritee AHMED, York University, Canada
Oral Presentations
The Labor-Populism-Urban Nexus
Steven TUFTS, York University, Canada; Mark THOMAS, York University, Canada; Ian MACDONALD, Université de Montréal, Canada
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