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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 3. Social Media, Digital Activism and Labour Movements—Worker Resistance in the New Protest Environment


· 3 · social media, digital activism and labour movements—worker resistance in the new protest environment As we have seen, media and developments in media technologies—as part of the consciousness industries (Ewen, 2001)—have been important in ad- vancing the interests of corporations and manifesting their power at a global level. The digitization of the global economy and the integration of digital media into corporate practices have profoundly changed not only corporate structures and working conditions but also the possibilities for corporations to manage and circulate information about their own activities in new and in- novative ways. There is no question that corporations have been able to take enormous advantage of the possibilities that digital media technologies al- low. However, much debate over developments in media has highlighted how some of these possibilities have also extended to social and political actors that seek to challenge or resist the expansion of corporate power and the spread of neoliberal ideology and global capitalism. Although unions and labour move- ments more broadly have received very little attention in these debates, they occupy a significant role in advancing such resistance. Historically, unions have been slow adapters to the web and the development of media practices within unions has been marked by a long-term and entrenched culture and understanding of resistance that is not necessarily immediately receptive to a digital environment. Indeed, the appropriation of media technologies by 82 worker resistance and media unions and worker organisations has been diverse, multi-faceted and certain- ly not...

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