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Selective Empathy

Workers, Colonial Subjects, and the Affective Politics of French Romantic Socialism

Naomi J. Andrews

During the 1830s and 1840s, romantic socialists in France wrote about three subjugated groups in the French empire: metropolitan workers, slaves in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean colonies, and Algerian civilians. Although these three groups ostensibly shared similar conditions of deprivation and violent treatment at the hands of the French state, socialists depicted them in importantly different terms, with the effect of humanizing workers and slaves, while dehumanizing the Algerians suffering French conquest and colonization. This article explores these presentations and examines the way they worked together to champion the socialist priority, the emergent working classes of the July Monarchy, and to indirectly endorse the settler colonial project in Algeria.

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Sandbags, Strikes, and Scandals

Public Disorder and Problematic Policing in Occupied Roubaix during World War I

James E. Connolly

In spring 1915, the delicate issue of French factory workers fabricating sandbags for the German army led to various breaches of public order in occupied Roubaix. These workers were criticized and physically assaulted by their occupied compatriots. At roughly the same time, many such workers refused to continue working for the German military authority. This unrest continued for months, putting the French administration, especially the local police force, in a difficult situation: these civil servants sought to restore public order and avoid punishments for the population, but did not want to encourage working for the Germans. Scandals involving policemen further undermined this challenging task. This article examines and explains these understudied events in detail, considering the nature of public disorder, the narrative of the “sandbag affair,” and the problems faced by the police. This allows for an insight into occupied life, especially the primacy of public perception and judgment.

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Worker Reactions to Crisis

Explaining 'Bossnappings'

Nick Parsons

In France in 2009-10, several managers announcing redundancies were held hostage by workers. Although the global economic crisis and an attendant rise in unemployment may provide a catalyst for "bossnappings," the real explanations for the phenomenon have to be found partly in the institutional make up of French industrial relations that have resulted in weak, divided unions and weak and conflictual collective bargaining mechanisms. However, such institutional factors cannot provide the whole explanation. Ideas also matter, and these underlying structural weaknesses have been unable to contain radical outbursts of anger when allied to pre-existing concerns over globalization—which appeared to be vindicated by the current economic crisis—, the reactions of the government to crisis, and the incapacity of unions or the state to respond to it.

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Constructing the Socialist Worker

Gender, Identity and Work under State Socialism in Braşov, Romania

Jill Massino

Utilising socialist legislation, propaganda and oral history interviews, this article analyses how women’s identities and roles – as well as gender relations – were reformulated as a result of women’s participation in paid labour in socialist Romania. Although some women regarded work as burdensome and unsatisfying, others found it intellectually fulfilling, personally rewarding and, in certain respects, empowering. For example, work improved women’s economic position and offered them an array of social services, which, although inadequate in a number of ways, were welcomed by many women. Moreover, work increased women’s physical and social mobility, which in turn provided them with greater freedom in directing their own lives and in choosing a partner. Finally, the experience of being harassed by male co-workers and of combining work outside the home with domestic responsibilities motivated some women to rethink their status both within the workplace and the family, and to renegotiate their relationships with male colleagues and partners. Although women never achieved full equality in socialist Romania, by creating the conditions for women’s full-time engagement in the workforce, state socialism decisively shaped the course of women’s lives, their self-identities and their conceptions of gender roles, often in positive ways.

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Migrant Care Workers in Israel

Between Family, Market, and State

Hila Shamir

In the early 1990s, Israel opened its gates to migrant guest workers who were invited to work, on a temporary basis, in the agriculture, construction, and in-home care sectors. The in-home care sector developed quickly during those years due to the introduction of migrant workers coupled with the creation of a new welfare state benefit: a longterm care benefit that subsidized the employment of in-home care workers to assist dependent elderly and disabled Israelis. This article examines the legal and public policy ramifications of the transformation of Israeli families caused by the influx of migrant care workers into Israeli homes. Exploring the relationship between welfare, immigration, and employment laws, on the one hand, and marketized and non-marketized care relationships, on the other, it reveals the intimate links between public policy, 'private' families, and defamilialization processes.

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Classifying the “ideal migrant worker”

Mexican and Jamaican transnational farmworkers in Canada

Janet McLaughlin

This article analyzes the ideology and practice of multi-unit competition that pervades neoliberal subjectivities and produces the “ideal” flexible worker within contemporary global capitalism. It demonstrates how state and capitalist interests converge to influence the selection of the ideal transnational migrant worker, how prospective migrants adapt to these expectations, and the consequences of such enactments, particularly for migrants, but also for the societies in which they live and work. Multiple levels of actors—employers, state bureaucrats, and migrants themselves—collude in producing the flexible, subaltern citizen, which includes constructions and relations of class, race, gender, and nationality/citizenship. The case study focuses on Mexican and Jamaican participants in Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, a managed migration program that legally employs circular migrant farmworkers from Mexico and several English-speaking Caribbean countries in Canadian agriculture.

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Alex Lichtenstein

This article considers the contribution of radical South African philosopher Rick Turner to theories of ‘workers’ control’. Turner’s philosophical work, especially his book, The Eye of the Needle (1972), posited the workplace as a fundamental site of ‘participatory democracy’ and a space for the potential radical transformation of South African society. During the early 1970s, Turner’s philosophical writings, teaching at the University of Natal, and political activism in Durban helped galvanise a cohort of radical white students who joined in support of protesting black workers in the 1973 Durban mass strikes. The confluence of Turner’s ideas about workers’ control, the students’ activism, and the collective action of the black working class gave South Africa’s labour movement a radically democratic, shop-floor orientation that deserves a revival in the new South Africa.

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Being a Community Health Worker Means Advocating

Participation, Perceptions, and Challenges in Advocacy

Ryan I. Logan

Community health workers (CHWs) participate in advocacy as a crucial means to empower clients in overcoming health disparities and to improve the health and social well-being of their communities. Building on previous studies, this article proposes a new framework for conceptualising CHW advocacy, depending on the intended impact level of CHW advocacy. CHWs participate in three ‘levels’ of advocacy, the micro, the macro, and the professional. This article also details the challenges they face at each level. As steps are taken to institutionalise these workers throughout the United States and abroad, there is a danger that their participation in advocacy will diminish. As advocacy serves as a primary conduit through which to empower clients, enshrining this role in steps to integrate these workers is essential. Finally, this article provides justification for the impacts of CHWs in addressing the social determinants of health and in helping their communities strive towards health equity.

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Fen-ling Chen and Shih-Jiunn Shi

Since the late 1990s, the dynamics of welfare reform in Taiwan have gradually shifted to tackling new social risks emerging from economic globalization and labor market changes. This article analyzes these structural changes and the relevant institutional features of the labor market. The rise of atypical work has generated wide concern regarding its low wage income and insufficient social protection, triggering debates about which policy measures can effectively tackle the problem of the working poor. Drawing on the quantitative data from a social quality survey conducted by the Social Policy Research Center in National Taiwan University (NTUSPRC) in 2009, our analysis explores the social exclusion differences between regular and atypical workers for their objective and subjective experiences. The objective experiences include current financial situations, negative events, living conditions and political activities of the workers, whereas the subjective experiences refer to their feelings in family position, welfare assessment, discrimination, and autonomy. Our analysis helps explain the effects of work status on the degrees of social exclusion, both in the private and public spheres. The social exclusion experiences of working conditions shed light on social quality in Asia.

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Mohammad Shahbazi

This article presents an account of a Qashqa'i health worker's upbringing, education and training, noting in particular his transition from life in a traditional nomadic family through completion of a formal education. The health worker, Jamal, describes certain problems of modernity and the personal conflict he faces as someone who loves his culture but also wants to see improvements in the health status of his people. Written by a Qashqa'i author, who brings his own sensitivity and cultural knowledge to the text, the article makes some recommendations about the training and integration of rural health workers in Iran.