Session 10: From Everyday Struggles to Global Change: Possibilities and Hurdles for Transnational Social Movement Unionism

In face of multiple crises of global capitalism, workers and unions are developing new forms of transnational cooperation with social and ecological movements. They seek to develop new connections and joint struggles toward social change. Yet, they also face hurdles posed by differences in the working and living conditions, experiences, and histories across countries. Hence, the task is to build a transnational labour movement that links everyday struggles for social change and thereby has the potential to contest capitalist relations and their negative social and ecological effects at the global scale.

Such labour movements act within an arena where institutional forms of conflict regulation become more and more dominant. Multi-stakeholder-initiatives, dominated by transnational corporations, governments, and transnational NGOs with their own concepts of “social change” shape the terrain for the agency of labour movements. Thus, they often hamper militant and conflict-oriented strategies.

In this panel, we invite activists from labour movements, especially grassroots unions, and engaged scholars working on transnational labour to share and discuss their efforts to build links between movements around the world. How do you understand social change? How can different places and actors be connected through struggles that promote emancipatory social relations? What are experiences from labour movements when it comes to engaging with institutional forms of conflict regulation?

Session Organizers: Tatiana López Ayala, WZB Berlin Social Science Centre, tatiana.lopez@wzb.eu; Janina Hirth, tie network (transnationals information exchange), Janina.hirth@tie-germany.org, and Michael Fütterer, tie network (transnationals information exchange), Michael.fuetterer@tie-germany.org.

This session is part of “Reimagining Our Worlds from Below: Transnational Conversations on Resistance, Movements and Transformations – A Free Virtual SSSP Global Outreach Conference,” May 18-21, 2022, organized by the Society for the Study of Social Problems and co-hosted by the EJ/CJ digital hub of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at UCSB (USA). Please send your proposal for an individual contribution to the corresponding session organizer(s) by March 20, 2022. Your response to the call for a themed session should entail a title plus an abstract of 250 to 350 words. Please add a brief biographical note.