The communicative power of trade unionism: labour law, political opportunity structure and social movement strategy

Ioannou, G. (2020) The communicative power of trade unionism: labour law, political opportunity structure and social movement strategy. Industrielle Beziehungen, 27(3), pp. 286-309. (doi: 10.3224/indbez.v27i3.03)

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This article argues that more emphasis should be paid to the communicative power of trade unionism because it may constitute a starting point or a privileged standpoint which a trade union may use to counter its weakness regarding its other sources of power. Reviewing the trade union revitalisation literature, it is argued that social movement theory in general and especially ‘political opportunity structure’, can complement and enrich the power resources approach which is a useful tool in the analysis of trade union action. The case study of a weak trade union winning a strike largely as a result of its successful utilisation of its communicative power is presented where the public communication of the two sides to the conflict is subjected to content and discourse analysis. The article argues that trade unions can enhance their position through the adaptation of social movement strategy and campaign tactics into trade union activity because social movements are more accustomed to orienting their action in the public sphere. In this effort trade unions may draw upon the more explicitly normative and substantive dimension of labour law as a resource to legitimise and garner support for the unions’ objectives framing in a more expansive manner the issues at stake so that a significant section of society can identify with the trade union struggle at hand.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The project leading to this publication is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 757395).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ioannou, Dr Gregoris
Authors: Ioannou, G.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:Industrielle Beziehungen
Publisher:Rainer Hampp Verlag
ISSN (Online):1862-0035
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Verlag Barbara Budrich
First Published:First published in Industrielle Beziehungen 27(3):286-309
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher
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