Social movements and organised labour: Passions and interests


We are living in times of crisis. Contrary to past events of that type which have mostly been of a conjunctural nature, this time, the crisis is a systemic one and embraces all major dimensions of social order. In situations like this, political allegiances tend to get dissolved thus eventually re-assemble around organisations and groups that escape any clear-cut image of traditional political organisations.

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This book is an attempt at describing and analysing that process by looking at the left of the political spectrum. Its authors focus on two social and political groups that have so far been looked at as incompatible with each other, both with respect to their strategies and to their organisational structures – social movements and trade unions.

In the introduction and in the first section of the book, most contributors adopt an interest-based perspective, thus asking after the likelihood of a merger or an approximation of (immaterial) passions and (material) interests. The focus is on alliance-building and on processes of mutual learning across the established boundaries of more and less well-organised types of collective actors.

The second section consists of an encompassing empirical tour de force through Southern European countries where the crisis has had its most severe consequences in social, economic, and political terms – Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. Partial inconsistencies notwithstanding, the authors conclude that there is much scope for the emergence of an anticapitalistic and truly democratic countermovement in the twilight of the present neoliberal order.


1 Passions, interests and the need to survive.
Jürgen R. Grote and Claudius Wagemann

2 Social movement theory and trade union organising.
Andy Mathers, Martin Upchurch and Graham Taylor

3 Unions as social movements or unions in social movements?
Mario Diani

4 Interests and types of solidarity in union-community alliances.
Amanda Tattersall

5 Social movements and trade unions in cross-movement countermobilization. A Polanyian view on social movement and trade union cooperation.
Sabrina Zajak

6 Social movement unionism: a toolkit of tactics or a strategic orientation? A critical assessment in the field of migrant workers campaigns.
Maite Tapia and Gabriella Alberti

7 Social movement unionism in Spain?
Holm-Detlev Köhler and José Pablo Calleja Jiménez

8 Trade unions and social movements at the crossroads: a Portuguese view.
Hermes Augusto Costa and Elísio Estanque

9 Conflict, competition and collaboration in the realm of labour. Trade unions and precarious workers in Italy.
Alice Mattoni

10 Trade unions in Greece: protest and social movements in the context of austerity politics.
Markos Vogiatzoglou

11 Countermovement formation in times of radical change.
Claudius Wagemann and Jürgen R. Grote


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Jürgen Grote

Senior Researcher and Topic Leader (Policies, Institutions, and Strategies in Global Inclusive Development), DOC Research Institute, DE

Jürgen Grote is a senior researcher and topic leader (Inclusive Global Development: Strategies, Institutions and Progress) at the DOC Research Institute in Berlin.He has previously been a senior research fellow at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and coordinator of an international network on labour relations in context. He has held the Marie Curie Chair of Excellence in Public Policy at Charles University in Prague and has worked as an associate professor, lecturer, and research fellow at the MZES-Mannheim, the EUI-Florence, and at the Universities of Konstanz, Darmstadt, Potsdam, Jena, and Osnabrück. He has been a visiting scholar and visiting lecturer at the Universities of Montpellier, Lyon, Roskilde and at Bocconi University, Milan.In between, he has been engaged in policy consultancy on behalf of several regional governments, business interest associations, and labour unions in Italy. His main research interests include topics such as forms of organised collective action by both capital and labour, civil society and social movements, European integration, regional and structural policies, critical governance, and relational analysis.On these and on related topics, he has published and co-edited many articles and several books (Sage, Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan) the most recent one being: Social Movements and Organized Labour: Passions and Interests (co-edited with C. Wagemann) 2018; London: Routledge.