Call for Papers @ SASE Mini-conference

Call for Papers for a Mini-Conference on

‚Labour and Collective Action in Transformation’

organised by

Donatella della Porta (European University Institute, Florence), Irene Dingeldey (University of Bremen), Jeremias Herberg (Radboud University Nijmegen), Heiner Heiland (University of Darmstadt), Franziska Laudenbach (University of Bremen), Martin Seeliger (University of Bremen).

The current constellation is in flux: While the production system is rearranging in terms of space (European integration and globalisation) and the means of production and distribution (tertiarization and digitalisation), rising sea levels, burning forests and rain-driven floods are calling for a decarbonisation of the economy. This complex constellation will result in multiple transformations, also taking place in the field of labour and industrial relations. Strategies of decarbonisation are possibly increasing fractious relations on a sectoral scale within and between different nations.

In this mini-conference we analyse the respective changes and their effects on the transformation of labour and collective action. In order to strengthen workers’ position to influence the ongoing multiple transformations, this mini-conference invites both conceptual and empirical contributions of all methodological varieties exploring the following issues:

Panel I: Paradoxes of Labour Mobilisation in Digital Capitalism

Digital technologies allow for new practices, both for anarchism, activism, coordination and control. This is especially true for work and employment. Digitalisation increases connectivity, expands communication and gives opportunity to new forms of agency in labour relations.

On one hand, companies extend their agency since they utilise comprehensive digital control regimes, reducing workers’ autonomy. On the other hand, digital technologies are used by workers to establish self-organised communities (e.g. platform cooperativism) and new cultures of solidarity. Overall mobilization within digital capitalism may again strengthen anarchy and activism.

In view of this paradox various questions arise:

  • Are new forms of workers' voice and mobilization as well as new actors emerging?
  • Does digitalisation change the composition of weak and strong ties in labor? Does this change collective action?
  • Are there differences and similarities in the use of digital agency according to nations, regions or economic sectors?

Panel II: The Conditions and Consequences of Decarbonization

Climate change acts as a great equalizer due to its global impact, but also triggers existential inequalities. Decarbonisation is one of the most critical, but also difficult aspects in this context. In this panel we discuss how locally specific, and globally influential re-articulations of industrial relations emerge highlighting the conditions and consequences of decarbonisation as a network of disrupting and re-connecting industrial legacies at different levels. The notion of industrial labour and care work, the relationship between government and industry, the nexus of local action and global discourses, and the role of science, technology, and innovation articulated in close interaction with the industrial past and socioecological futures.

  • How do the practices and imaginaries of decarbonisation shape the political cleavages between local and global, essential and non-essential work, industry and sustainability? 
  • How do they distribute responsibilities, entitlements and blame between governments, industry, social movements, and academia when decarbonisation processes take place?
  • How do actors navigate between the local specificity and the global impact that decarbonisation has on labour relations and local livelihoods? 

Panel III: The paradox of transnational solidarity in transforming working relations

The globalisation of production, digitalisation and the transnationalisation of policy making opens up new opportunities for collective action and workers’ solidarity, but at the same time collaboration is restraint by a multitude of contradictory regulations and normative ideals developed within different systems of industrial relations.

The proposed panel seeks to show when and how fractious connections are overcome by acts of solidarity. Hence, we search for more places, acts and motives of transnational solidarity, including more or less spontaneous activism as well as institutionalised forms of coordination:

  • How do processes of transformation (digitalisation, decarbonisation, globalisation) influence solidarity in transnational working relations?
  • What are challenges of transnational solidarity? And how and where have they successfully been mastered?
  • Which new alliances appear within the processes of multiple transformations?


Send any question to Martin Philipp Seeliger | Universitaet Bremen.

Proposals can be submitted here: