ILPC 2022, 21st to 23rd April Padua

Special Stream 2: Labour conflict, forms of organization and class

Proposed by Maurizio Atzeni (Centre for Labour Relations, CEIL/CONICET, Argentina), Jenny Chan (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong), Devi Sacchetto (University of Padua, Italy)

This stream has two main purposes.

The first one, building on ILPC Buenos Aires conference theme on class and the labour process and on previous ILPC streams and publications focused particularly on the Global South, is to contribute to a reformulation of studies on labour conflict and forms of organization, exploring the connections existing between labour process based expressions of resistance and broader class analysis explanations.

Conflict, collective action, and organization have been central themes in the field of labour studies, given their role in shaping the outcomes of capital labour regulations in the workplaces and at the social level. Recent research has opened the field empirically by looking at forms of worker self-organization based on networks of solidarity that have emerged parallel to or beyond the union form. Such research has looked at changes emerging in the platform economy (Tassinari and Maccarrone, 2020), in extremely precarious contexts in the south of the world (Anner, 2018; Marinaro, 2018; Rizzo, 2017), and among migrants (Alberti and Per , 2018; Perrotta and Sacchetto, 2014; Chan, 2021). Parallel to these empirical studies, other publications have addressed more theoretical issues, inviting others to abandon the eurocentrism of industrial relations (Nowak, 2021); to rethink the forms of organization, going beyond the fetishism of the trade union form (Atzeni, 2021); and to reflect on the need to more explicitly set class domination as the normative dimension, henceforth orienting labour scholars who are aiming to produce knowledge 'on the side of workers' (Gallas, 2021).

We aim to broaden a field originally structured around the capital-labour antagonism in the confines of factories to new forms of conflict and organization that could be better understood in the wider framework of class analysis. Variously defined as 'the multitude,' 'the precariat,' 'the subaltern,' 'the urban outcasts,' or 'the plebeians' (who are composed in a variety of ways), class as a theoretical perspective has increasingly drawn the attention of critical social scientists.

The COVID-19 emergency has made evident that there are deep-seated class, race/ethnic, and gender divides in terms of access to work and quality of jobs among working people. It unveiled the conditions of insecurity, inequality, and precariousness suffered by many workers employed in activities essential to the functioning of urban and rural systems as a whole. Is the pandemic and the economic crisis unfolding worldwide as a result creating conditions for the production of new forms of collective identification and organisation among the most unprotected and yet the most essential workers? Or, on the contrary, are we seeing further segmentation in job markets and workplaces as well as fragmentation of collective identities?

The second purpose of the stream is to establish an international community of scholars engaged in a class-oriented analysis of labour conflict and organization. In order to build this the stream will be associated to a coordinated international themed collection to publish in four journals representing different regions, languages, and scholarly traditions (RELET, Partecipazione e Conflitto, Global Labor Journal, Economic and Labour Relations Review). We see the stream at ILPC as a moment of constructive discussion and feedback of working papers to be considered for the internationally coordinated collection at a later stage and as the first building block, followed by a similar stream at ALAST (Latinamerican Association of Labour studies scholars) in bringing together a committed class oriented international community of scholars. The association with scholars belonging to different academic environments and with the editorial project would open ILPC to people who do not normally participate, guaranteeing a mutual cross fertilization.

Abstracts should be between 350 and 500 words. Key words should be given that indicate the focus of research and the methods used. The abstract should contain clear information about theoretical orientation, findings, methodology, and what contribution is being made to knowledge. Abstracts of papers that are concerned solely with theoretical or conceptual matters will need to provide clear information on how they address and advance relevant debates. We encourage contributions especially from the Global South.

Abstract submission will open at the start of 1st September 2021 with a deadline of 31st October 2021. Decisions of acceptance will be made by early December 2021.