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Advancing workers’ rights in the gig economy through discursive power: the communicative strategies of indie unions

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-02-09, 12:11 authored by Davide Però, John DowneyJohn Downey
Finding limited representation in established unions, a growing number of precarious and migrant workers of the gig economy have been turning to self-organization. Yet little is known about how these workers can compensate for their lack of material resources and institutional support and negotiate effectively with employers. Drawing on interviews, frame, and content analysis grounded in ethnographic research with the precarious and migrant workers of British ‘indie’ unions, we examine the significance of self-mediation practices in facilitating effective negotiations. We find that the effectiveness of campaigns can be enhanced by strategically integrating vibrant direct action of workers and allies with self-mediated messages, which are framed to resonate with the general public and mainstream media – a practice that we call communicative unionism. These findings extend labour movement scholarship by showing the analytical importance of considering workers’ discursive power-building practices. They also contribute to addressing social movement studies’ historical neglect of workers’ collective engagements with employers.

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • Communication and Media

Published in

Work, Employment and Society

Volume

38

Issue

1

Pages

140 - 160

Publisher

SAGE Publications

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

Publication date

2022-08-19

Copyright date

2022

ISSN

0950-0170

eISSN

1469-8722

Language

  • en

Depositor

Prof John Downey. Deposit date: 9 September 2022