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Social-Movement Unionism: A New Union Model for a New World Order?

Peter Waterman
Review (Fernand Braudel Center)
Vol. 16, No. 3 (Summer, 1993), pp. 245-278
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40241259
Page Count: 34
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Social-Movement Unionism: A New Union Model for a New World Order?
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Abstract

Traditional socialist trade-union theories or models have not prevented the frequent isolation of labor from other democratic social movements, or the subordination of labor struggles to the ideologies and interests of other categories and classes. Such understandings are today an obstacle to emancipatory strategies. Theory related to the new social movements (1) surpasses the notion of a single class identity and interest, (2) undermines a view of society as dominated by the economic and political spheres, and of social struggle as progressing from the first to the second, (3) suggests positive new relations between class, popular and democratic interests and demands, (4) provides a base for a new relationship with political parties, and (5) proposes a new view of the global and a new kind of internationalism. A ten-point theoretical/strategic definition of "social-movement unionism" is offered which stresses the necessity and possibility for an intimate articulation of unionized with other workers, of labor with other social forces, and of shopfloor democracy with shopfloor internationalism. A test case offered to illustrate the argument is that of the relationship between an Indian feminist strategy for working women and recent South African trade-union experience. The conclusion is that "social-movement unionism" offers a continuously renewable emancipatory strategy surpassing current liberal, populist, and socialist ones.

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