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Panel Search (ISA Forum Vienna 2016): Movements on the Job: Theorizing Strikes and Workplace Protest in Comparative Context
Chris RHOMBERG, Fordham University, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Session in English
Can workers still act collectively in the workplace to achieve lasting change? The strike has long been recognized as one of the most important ways that workers’ movements can mobilize to exercise power. Strike theory, however, is badly in need of an overhaul. Emerging in the post-World War Two era along with the institutionalization of collective bargaining in advanced capitalist countries, it viewed strikes as a routinized tactic within mature systems of Fordist industrial relations.
As workplaces have changed and those systems have experienced varying levels of decline, the power of the traditional strike has been challenged. Yet some unions have continued to win notable victories, new forms of job-based action have emerged, and there has been an upsurge of militancy in developing countries without a broad base or history of institutionalized collective bargaining.
These events highlight the changing forms and meanings of workplace mobilization, and call for a revival of theory from a broader comparative perspective. Among the questions to be considered on this session are:
- What legal and institutional conditions, including state tolerance or repression, shape forms of workplace collective action in different contexts?
- What forms of economic, political, or symbolic leverage or power can workers exercise through different forms of action?
- And what kind of conceptual frameworks do we need in order to develop more comparative analyses of strike mobilization and a better understanding of recent events?