The Social Construction of Workers’ Collectivism

1655 Words7 Pages
Union renewal depends largely on increased member participation, generating and maintaining strong collective identities and mobilization of union resources. It was further contended that collective identities are not given, but constructed and sustained through narrative framing and engagement of individuals. These processes highlighted the importance of trade union leaders’ ability to construct and sustain workers’ collective identity and interest via strategies which seek to broaden the relevancy of trade unionism. In a time when worker collectivism is in a decline, the relevant question is to what extent is this possible? According to Muckenberger (1995), the decline of trade unionism in terms of density and the importance of trade…show more content…
Similar questions on the acquiring of collective identities and interests have preoccupied social movement scholars for many years, culminating in growing body of work that is termed mobilization theory. This approach of linking industrial relations and social movement theory to understanding the nature of collectivism draws on the work of Kelly (1997; 1998). It was a shift from traditional institutional analysis of trade unions and towards the analysis of the nature and social processes of workers’ collectivization. The central issue of this approach is to understanding how individuals are transformed into collective actors, how collective identity and interest are constructed and sustained, and how they participate in collective action against their employer. To understand how collective identity and interest are constructed and sustained and how individuals are transformed into collective actors and how they participate in collective action against their employer, Kelly draws the work of Marxist social historian, Charles Tilly’s (1977) model of collective action that proposed collective action (and its absence) is predetermined by interests, organization, mobilization, and opportunity. Organization is the structure of a group. Mobilization is the process by which a group acquires collective control over resources needed for action or the ways in which individuals are transformed into a collective

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