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Critique of Social Movement Trade Unionism: Multilayered value-fronts and the possibility of social-labour movement

Chang, Dae-Oup (2010) 'Critique of Social Movement Trade Unionism: Multilayered value-fronts and the possibility of social-labour movement.' In: Seong Jin, Jeong and Kim, Chang-guen, (eds.), Ideas of Alter-Globalization Movement. Seoul, Korea: Hanul, pp. 45-90.

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Abstract

This article aims to contribute to building a more ‘comprehensive’ theory of the alter-globalisation movement by engaging with theories and practices of social movement unionism (SMU). Theories of SMU are attracting many who have been frustrated in the never-ending discussions about the crisis of the labour movement. Arguing against the old labour movement’s industrial workerism, male-domination, bureaucratic nature, nationalism and isolation from other social movements, SMU suggests many strategies alternative to the union movement. Indeed, it seems true that as an alternative ‘strategy’ of the labour movement in the globalising and expanding circuit of capital, SMU has been increasingly influential to unionists and activists. However, in spite of ‘strategic’ achievements of SMU in creating a platform for new actions and ideas, SMU theories remain to be developed a lot more. In particular, the attempt of SMU theories to connect the labour movement and ‘other’ social movements without thoroughly addressing the relations between newly emerging forms of social movements/struggles and the contradictory development of capital relations prevents the theories from being an alternative and comprehensive theory with an inspiring perspective for the 21st century labour movement. This article tries to shed light on and overcome the ‘externality’ between the old and new contradictions of capitalist development as well as between the old and new movements, which haunts SMU theories in general. It will be argued that breaking down the ‘otherness’ [not diversity] between different movements is an urgent task for critical academics working to build a real unity among the diversified movements. I argue that the expanding circuit of capital and the ‘real’ subsumpiton of our livelihood to it deepened, rather than removed, internal relations between immediate labour problems and so-called ‘other’ social contradictions. It does so by widening the central role of the social relations of capitalist labour, not as merely relations of labouring activities as presented in SMU theories, but as a particular social mediation that constitutes the social relations of the entire living and working space in a particular way. A presupposition of the real ‘articulation’ of the labour movement with ‘other’ movements is to realise multiple value-fronts emerging from the expanding circuit of capital and resolve conceptually the ‘otherness’ between the movements.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Development Studies
ISBN: 9788946052338
Depositing User: Dae-Oup Chang
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2011 13:26
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/12156

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