Gender, Diversity, and Trade Unions: International Perspectives

Gender, Diversity, and Trade Unions: International Perspectives

Gender, Diversity, and Trade Unions: International Perspectives

Gender, Diversity, and Trade Unions: International Perspectives

Synopsis

A multidisciplinary volume, this work examines the impact of women's activism and new social movement politics on trade unions. Drawing on current research in the field, the book develops an international perspective on trade union gender democracy world-wide.

Excerpt

This is a book born of globalism. Its subject matter, the dynamics of gender and diversity challenges to trade unionism, is being reshaped by the forces of global capital. Although globalisation is seen largely as malevolent, it does also offer important opportunities for international labour solidarity and the exchange and development of innovative strategies. Also the book itself has been an outcome of academic globalism. We would especially like to thank all the contributors for the many stimulating discussions and debates electronically and in person in the various parts of the world where we have been able to meet and network over the period of the book's development. It is with very many thanks indeed to all of them for their interest and willingness to participate in this project, and their patience in dealing with our many requests and queries. The contributions come from ten different countries, and although there are some patterns and similarities, there are also wide differences both in approach and content. Grasping and making sense of all these has been a daunting task, and we hope that we have been able to do credit to the authors and that they think it has been a worthwhile project.

Together, we offer accounts from around the globe, of the gender and diversity politics of trade unionism, an assessment of the present state of play, and of the potential for its future shape. It is noticeable that the majority of the contributions are from the industrialised West. We think that this is the result of a praxis which reflects the state of activity within unions around the politics of gender and diversity relations, together with the state of academic inquiry about democracy, equality and the forms and character of trade unions. Since some of the academics contributing to the book also work collaboratively with unions, and are active in unions and other political and community organisations, maybe this is not surprising.

Perhaps it is also to be expected that the studies in the book are focused in two main cultural blocs, which represent the oldest and longest-established labour traditions of the Western capitalist world, the Anglo and the European. These are also important sites of second wave feminism, and more recently of developing social movements. Recently too feminism has reinvigorated research in the field, and extended the traditional scope of inquiry in industrial relations. These cross-overs and links are important because as observed and experienced by many of us, the academic industrial relations tradition is still largely peopled by men (Forrest 1993; Pocock 2000; Wajcman 2000) and there have also been too few points of contact

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