From forms of labour to types of trade unionism. Three case studies (São Paulo, Brazil)

In the actual context of globalization and labour market transformations, this article discusses its implications on labour unionism and their forms of legitimacy in a Southern country such as Brazil. In a historic perspective, the analysis focuses on the sense of the activity of the activists for themselves and the potential of « professionalization » of this social, economic and political occupation, by questioning the relations between activists, trade union members and the public sector. The comparison of three sectors and figures of trade unionism – all from low-level, low-wage and more or less informal occupations, such as telemarketing, street sellers and domestic workers – allows to show their specificities, as well as to ask some more general questions about the sense of the actual transformations.

Isabelle Georges, Socio-Économie du Travail n°32 (Économies et Sociétés, tome XLIV), juillet 2010, p.1185-1211.

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