Labour Movement since the End of the 1960s until the mid-1980s in a Comparative Perspective

Wolf, Johanna

It is a widespread assumption in literature that the end of the 1960s marks a radical turning point in modern societies. A stronger transnationalization went hand in hand with significant changes in technology and communication, an expansion of the liberal market model, the rise of new powers outside the Western world and the simultaneous continuity of dependence that shattered all hopes of decolonization. Social and political conflicts that led to the formation of new social movements and political organizations indicate that these transformations had different effects on different groups, which were welcomed and taken up or rejected and condemned. Those developments posed a major intellectual, organizational and political challenge for more traditional formations like the labour movement. This comparative study investigates possible differences in the impact of the above mentioned changes of global economy and historical settings on the structure and organization of labour, while at the same time examining the consequences of the economic and structural changes for the social situation of workers in analogue countries. Another question is how the respective labour movements dealt with these challenges, how they became aware of them and how they discussed them. Finally, this project aims to find out which of these perceptions initiated processes of mobilization and politicization among the workers; which effects the mobilization had on the successful change of the social situation of the workers, on their perception within society and on the structure of labour; and how specific constellations and compactions of rhythm and intensity of the discussions can be explained. This project builds on the recently intensified comparative analysis of the year 1968 and on a global history of the labour movement. The PhD project of Johanna Wolf is supervised by Matthias Middell and will continue in 2011.