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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 7. Online Labour Activism and State-Corporate Control


· 7 · online labour activism and state-corporate control “It’s like holding all your political meetings at McDonald’s and ensuring that the police come and film you while you do so.” (Yossarian, Indymedia programmer on the use of commercial social media platforms by activists, quoted in Uldam, 2014, p. 10) As we have argued in this book, the shape and form that worker resistance is taking in the twenty-first century illustrate significant challenges and op- portunities for how an organised labour movement can stay relevant and advance workers’ interests against increasingly expanding global corporate powers. Our case studies highlight the ways in which developments in me- dia forms, in particular, can become an integral part to new ways of organ- ising, mobilising and campaigning amongst previously unorganised sectors of the labour market. However, they also highlight some of the substan- tial difficulties that unions and labour organisations are facing in creating democratic, sustainable and strong resistance movements amongst low-wage workers that limit the potentials for changing media practices to challenge global corporate power. When looking at transformations in labour move- ments and the ways in which digital and social media become integrated into struggles over working conditions it is important not to abstract these technologies from the context in which they are being used. What is more, the nature and development of these technologies have their own histories 188 worker resistance and media and processes that need to form part of any analysis. Indeed, social move- ments and protests have shown over...

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