Sep 16 – 17, 2021
Palazzo Strozzi
Europe/Rome timezone

Renewing workers’ collective action theories in the gig and precarious world of work

Sep 16, 2021, 4:30 PM
Track 2 2.2


Maurizio Atzeni (CEIL/CONICET)Dr Lorenzo Cini (Scuola Normale Superiore)


The field of industrial relations (IR) and social movement studies (SM) have rarely entered into a dialogue. Kelly’s mobilization theory has been one of the few successful attempts to integrate the two fields of study by providing a framework for the analysis of micro processes of mobilizations. In the light of the new conflicts that are emerging in the context of the gig and precarious economy we do think, however, that is necessary to rethink our theorisations about workers’ collective action and organisation in order to go beyond trade union centred analyses of collective action (Atzeni 2021) and to account for less institutional and Eurocentric types of IR frameworks (Nowak 2021). SM has for long paid attention to the non-institutional socio-political context to explain social movement formation processes—focusing on factors such as the protest culture of a given country, the informal networks of activists of a given community, the presence of social movement organizations, the organizational tradition of mobilization of urban localities (Ford and Honan, 2019; Munck, 2019; della Porta and Diani, 2020). However, these insights have been detached from an understanding of material processes of labour exploitation and, therefore, they have been rarely associated with studies of workers’ mobilizations. In this paper, by reviewing the burgeoning international literature on labour conflict and organisation in the gig and precarious economy, particularly at urban level, we thus aim to show how institutional and non-institutional factors combine with precarious labour processes in urban contexts to produce collective organisation and conflict. In doing this we hope a more integrated framework for analysis can be provided to scholars interested to understand contemporary changes in labour and social conflicts worldwide.

Primary authors

Maurizio Atzeni (CEIL/CONICET) Dr Lorenzo Cini (Scuola Normale Superiore)

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