Labour after Globalisation: new forms of organisation, new sources of power

In this book-length manuscript a puzzle will be dealt with, namely: the continuing decline of traditional trade unionism in advanced industrial countries, side by side with the growth of a new scholarship on global labour. A range of contemporary scholars will be challenged, most notably Manuel Castells in his three volume study of the Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture in the Network Society (1996) and Guy Standing in his book Work after Globalization: Building Occupational Citizenship (2009), who both speak of the end of labour. It will be argued that a new global labour study is emerging that is identifying the new initiatives, organizational forms and sources of power at the periphery of traditional labour. A growing interest in a new political subject of labour which includes women, immigrants, people of colour, low-paid service workers, precarious workers will be suggested. These are groups that have been historically excluded from the moral and material boundaries of union membership. Rather than traditional scholarship on industrial relations, new labour scholars are exploring transformations occurring at the periphery of mainstream labour movements.

Project leader(s):
  • Edward Webster (Witwatersrand)

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