Trade unions and precariat in Europe: Representative claims

Meardi, G., Simms, M. and Adam, D. (2021) Trade unions and precariat in Europe: Representative claims. European Journal of Industrial Relations, 27(1), pp. 41-58. (doi: 10.1177/0959680119863585)

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Trade unions have been charged with neglecting labour market ‘outsiders’, while alternative actors have emerged to represent these. In response, unions have stepped up their claim to be representative of all workers, without distinction. We review the theoretical and policy debates on this issue, and argue that representation as such has been under-theorized. We draw on Saward’s concept of ‘representative claims’ to analyse the different grounds for competing assertions of representativeness. We identify four main forms of claims, and illustrate these with empirical examples. We conclude that these different claims are mutually reinforcing in stimulating attention to the outsiders, and in their interaction with institutional settings, they have a performative effect in defining new social actors.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Simms, Professor Melanie
Authors: Meardi, G., Simms, M., and Adam, D.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:European Journal of Industrial Relations
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1461-7129
Published Online:27 July 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in European Journal of Industrial Relations 27(1): 41-58
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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