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Worker Resistance and Media

Challenging Global Corporate Power in the 21st Century


Lina Dencik and Peter Wilkin

With developments in media technologies creating new opportunities and challenges for social movements to emerge and mobilize, this book is a timely and necessary examination of how organized labour and workers movements are engaging with this shifting environment. Based on extensive empirical research into emerging migrant and low-wage workers movements and their media practices, this book takes a critical look at the nature of worker resistance to ever-growing global corporate power in a digital age. Situating trade unionism in historical context, the book considers other forms of worker organizations and unionism, including global unionism, social movement unionism, community unionism, and syndicalist unionism, all of which have become increasingly relevant in a digitized world-system. At a time when the labour movement is said to be in crisis, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the state of the labour movement, the future of unions, and the possibilities for challenging corporate exploitation of workers today.


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Chapter 2. Labour and the Second Wave of Globalisation—Digitising the World-System


· 2 · labour and the second wave of globalisation—digitising the world-system The global revolutions of 1968 mark an important turning point in the mod- ern world-system. They signify a point of rebellion against many of the forms of social hierarchy and oppression that had underpinned the world-system both ideologically and materially: movements challenging racism, sexism, ho- mophobia, imperialism and militarism all emerged around the world alongside a growing peace movement, human rights and environmental movements (Arrighi, Hopkins & Wallerstein, 1989). The consequences of this explosion of ideas and social movements were felt across the political divide as politi- cal parties and established organisations such as trade unions had to rapidly come to terms with them. Unions were subject to an array of criticisms for their bureaucratic, hierarchical, conservative and exclusive practices, includ- ing sexism, homophobia and racism (Wrench, 1986; Briskin & McDermott, 1993; Munro, 2001; Wallerstein, 1989). For radicals the unions were also ac- cused of having, in reality, served merely the sectional interests of those they represented rather than working to improve the conditions of the working classes generally (Hyman, 1999). This was a revival of the criticism originally made by the IWW in its founding days, which said that the existing union movement divided rather than united the working classes and that what was 54 worker resistance and media needed was One Big Union for all workers (Thompson & Bekken, 2006; Ren- shaw, 1999; Dubofsky, 1987). At the same time the 1968 revolutions presented major challenges to the state and capital...

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