REFRAMING LABOUR AND WORKERS’ RESISTANCE FOR THE 21st CENTURY
Call for Papers
Working USA special issue
Maurizio Atzeni, Loughborough University, UK; firstname.lastname@example.org
Immanuel Ness, Brooklyn College, CUNY, New York City; email@example.com
Interpretations of global labour in the age of neoliberal capitalism urgently demands robust and critical historical and comparative analysis. For decades, research on labour collective organisation has focused almost exclusively on workers collectively employed on a stable basis in industrial settings or in the public sector, defended by collective bargaining, represented by trade unions and inserted within relatively stable systems of industrial relations. This view however it has always failed to take into account the transformative potentialities of that vast, rich and meaningful array of ‘precarious’ work experiences and relations that allow the production and re-production of capital as a whole.
Women’s labour in the sphere of social reproduction, low-waged workers who work outside conventional work as subcontractors in global production chains or in the informal economy of the global cities or as crowd workers in the digital economy, migrant workers whose exploited work often lays at the margin of legality, new groups of dispossessed people forced into the labour market, are categories of workers traditionally excluded and neglected by the labour relations literature as labourers; often considered unproductive, unregulated, and thus unrepresentable. Considering the speed of development and intensity of integration of global capitalist processes and the political turn to neoliberalism, which have brought about new (or refreshed old) paradigms to increase workers’ productivity and profits, absent has been the signal importance of these ‘invisible’, precarious workers, today representing not just the vast majority of workers in the global South but also increasingly shaping the social landscape of cities across the world.
Broadening research on this underworld of precarious and not represented workers is important to understand one fundamental dimension of the process of capital accumulation in the global age but it also helps to address deep theoretical concerns, put in evidence by heterodox Marxist currents across the social sciences, originating from the use of narrow conceptions about work and workers:
- The conventional notion of the working class, based on the industrial, waged worker, has been questioned for not considering how different labour regimes co-exist and contribute to the development of capitalism as a system, especially women engaged in social reproduction.
- The social organisation and militancy of workers it has been reduced to workers’ resistance to official strikes organised by representative trade unions, the ‘institutionalised form of resistance’, leaving aside the rich history and tradition of workers’ self-organisation. This remains crucial today in framing precarious workers organisation and in setting possibilities for transformative agency.
- Geographically research concentrated on struggles at the workplace without considering the linkages of these with broader struggles over workers’ daily lives.
In the past 30 years, one sided views of labour has been explicitly based on the political role assigned to the industrial workers. Either from a revolutionary or a reformist perspective this particular section of the working class was considered central to any transformative politics. The advent of neoliberalism has swept away many of the elements upon which this centrality was built, leaving a tabula rasa, politically and theoretically speaking. From an empirical point of view, diversity, heterogeneity, unevenness, unpredictability characterise most workers’ struggles of the 21st century.
Against this theoretical and empirical gap in knowledge, the aim of this special issue is twofold.
It aims to offer insights on the daily lives, organization and resistance of precarious workers, intending these in broader terms, as employed in a range of different sectors, geographical and spatial landscapes, economic environments, and regulatory employment regimes.
It aims to produce new knowledge into the connections between these different workers’ struggles and the specific socio-economic, historical and productive context in which have developed.
Within these aims and considering the scope of the journal, we seek submissions from any social sciences discipline concerned with the study of workers and labour using a range of empirical and methodological analyses. The editors however would especially welcome papers that reach theoretical insights in addressing the relevance of certain groups of workers’ experiences or develop their arguments through comparative/historical analysis; focus on global cities and diverse employment regimes, workplaces and daily lives experiences; consider the experiences of workers in strategic sectors of the economy (distribution, transportation, knowledge economy); search for connections of workers struggles in different locations across the global production chain; or offer insights on new forms of organizing and resistance
DUE DATE FOR ABSTRACTS OF 750-1000 WORDS: 15 September 2014
WORD LENGTH: 6000-10,000 words
DUE DATE FOR FINAL SUBMISSION: end March 2015
PUBLICATION DATE: September 2015
INCLUDE NAME, AFFILIATION
WE ENCOURAGE PHD STUDENTS AND ESTABLISHED SCHOLARS TO CONTRIBUTE
First published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/call-for-papers-reframing-labour-and-workers2019-resistance-for-the-21st-century
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