Academic journal article Anarchist Studies

Workplace Conflict: Mobilization and Solidarity in Argentina

Academic journal article Anarchist Studies

Workplace Conflict: Mobilization and Solidarity in Argentina

Article excerpt

Maurizio Atzeni, Workplace Conflict: Mobilization and Solidarity in Argentina New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010; 288pp, £60 ISBN: 0230584640

Argentina occupies a unique position in the global history of radical movements. Whether one thinks of the anarchist-led revolutionary workers' movement that rattled the country at the turn of the twentieth century, the dramatic eruptions that rartled it at the beginning of this one, or the countless other rebellions of lesser renown that have taken place there, one cannot doubt that the country has been a particularly generous source of inspiration for activists and challenges for scholars of revolt.

Maurizio Atzeni's Workplace Conflict: Mobilization and Solidarity in Argentina presents a comprehensive analysis of the dynamics of workers' collective action in the contemporary period. Using disputes at two Argentine car manufacturing plants as a springboard for a broader engagement with theories of contestation and class struggle, he sets out to explore what drives workers to rebel against their conditions under certain circumstances and to examine the internal logic of their protests. His sympathies place him squarely in the Marxist camp, specifically among Marxist scholars working in the fields of industrial relations and labour studies.

His point of departure is John Kelly's mobilization theory, especially as developed in Kelly's 1998 book, Rethinking Industrial Relations: Mobilization, Collectivism, and Long Waves. Kelly argues that one can explain workers' resistance primarily by identifying their experiences of injustice. Atzeni objects to this. He asserts that injustice is an inherently indeterminate, ethical category and thus an inadequate basis upon which to elucidate the motive force of mobilizations. He maintains that scholars must analyze workplace conflict in the context of the labour process itself and, above all, look at the emergence of feelings of solidarity among labourers, which are both fostered and destroyed by the contradictory pressures of exploitation and cooperation present in work under capitalism. Atzeni believes that studying solidarity, and returning to the labour process generally, is a precondition of the coherent analysis of workplace conflicts and our ability to contextualize them within more comprehensive theories of the social order. …

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