Geographies of Trade Unionism: Translating Traditions Across Space and Time

Geographies of Trade Unionism: Translating Traditions Across Space and Time In the context of national trade union decline, this paper explores the geography of trade union organization through case study research at the Shredded Wheat Factory in Welwyn Garden City (Herfordshire, UK). This example highlights the geographical constitution of trade union traditions, focusing upon the ways in which collective practices and ideas are forged in particular places but also how trade union traditions can be translated across space, from one place to another. This translation is argued to take place in three ways: (i) through the direct migration of workers, (ii) through the “demonstration effects” of strikes, trade union defeats and the ensuing media and trade union coverage of these events, and (iii) through solidarity initiatives taken by workers themselves. Rather than understanding workers' traditions as being historical products in place, I argue they are simultaneously geographical in their constitution. Trade unionism is shown to be processual, constantly evolving in and across time and space. Through such insights the research enhances existing geographical work in the field, advocating an approach which focuses upon the agency involved in trade union organization, the processual nature of trade union organization and the importance of the spatial translation of trade union traditions. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Antipode Wiley

Geographies of Trade Unionism: Translating Traditions Across Space and Time

Antipode, Volume 28 (4) – Oct 1, 1996

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1996 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0066-4812
eISSN
1467-8330
DOI
10.1111/j.1467-8330.1996.tb00531.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In the context of national trade union decline, this paper explores the geography of trade union organization through case study research at the Shredded Wheat Factory in Welwyn Garden City (Herfordshire, UK). This example highlights the geographical constitution of trade union traditions, focusing upon the ways in which collective practices and ideas are forged in particular places but also how trade union traditions can be translated across space, from one place to another. This translation is argued to take place in three ways: (i) through the direct migration of workers, (ii) through the “demonstration effects” of strikes, trade union defeats and the ensuing media and trade union coverage of these events, and (iii) through solidarity initiatives taken by workers themselves. Rather than understanding workers' traditions as being historical products in place, I argue they are simultaneously geographical in their constitution. Trade unionism is shown to be processual, constantly evolving in and across time and space. Through such insights the research enhances existing geographical work in the field, advocating an approach which focuses upon the agency involved in trade union organization, the processual nature of trade union organization and the importance of the spatial translation of trade union traditions.

Journal

AntipodeWiley

Published: Oct 1, 1996

References

  • Trade unions through the recession.
    Kelly, Kelly
  • Local industrial politics: Spatial subsystems in British engineering.
    Martin, Martin; Sunley, Sunley; Wills, Wills
  • Union growth in Britain: Retrospect and prospect.
    Price, Price; Bain, Bain
  • Long cycles in strike activity: An empirical investigation.
    Screpanti, Screpanti
  • Union exclusion ‐ next steps.
    Smith, Smith; Morton, Morton
  • Trade union membership in Britain, 1980–1987: Unemployment and restructuring
    Waddington, Waddington

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