Peter Fairbrother

in The Oxford Handbook of Employment Relations

Published in print March 2014 | ISBN: 9780199695096
Published online May 2014 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management


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The chapter focuses on trade unionism, particularly over the last three decades. It begins the analysis with the observation that unions face challenges, relating to organization, capacity, and purpose. In the context of change in capitalist economies, some unions are beginning to renew themselves. However, this process is uneven. Unions face difficulties when the class composition and the politics associated with it changes, occasionally in dangerous and forbidding ways. The chapter discusses the prospects for a progressive and active form of unionism, characterized as social movement unionism. Nonetheless, the tensions between material concerns and alternatives about the ways in which society could be organized and may change remain in the forefront of union concern and purpose.

Keywords: unions; renewal; social movements; capitalism; class; political economy

Article.  8269 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Human Resource Management ; Business Ethics

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