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Advancing Workers’ Rights in the Gig Economy through Discursive Power: The Communicative Strategies of Indie Unions

Però, Davide; Downey, John

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Authors

DAVIDE PERO davide.pero@nottingham.ac.uk
Associate Professor

John Downey



Abstract

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.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 24, 2022
Online Publication Date Aug 19, 2022
Publication Date Aug 19, 2022
Deposit Date Sep 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 9, 2022
Journal Work, Employment and Society
Print ISSN 0950-0170
Electronic ISSN 1469-8722
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/09500170221103160
Keywords Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management; Economics and Econometrics; Sociology and Political Science; Accounting
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/10907518
Publisher URL https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/09500170221103160

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