Chapter 21: Encounters between Gender and Labour Politics: Towards an Inclusive Trade Union Democracy
Sue Ledwith* INTRODUCTION How might a really inclusive gender and diversity democracy in trade unions be achieved, and what forms of feminist praxis (theory into practice) might be involved? This is an urgent question for women and diversity groups both inside and outside trade unions, and for trade unions themselves. It is framed at what I call a key ‘long moment’ or window of opportunity, a point of encounter between the hot topic of trade union renewal, and the demand for gender and diversity democracy in unions. Both have been extensively theorised and argued. Here I ask what might such a model of feminist praxis look like? What are the key issues and social processes involved? I draw on ideas from sources which focus on political praxis. In particular I find Antonio Gramsci’s discussions of hegemony, the social processes involved in the development of counter hegemony, and opportunities for revolution provide a compelling framework for action. Second, arguments for a politics of difference and identity, and of social justice, for example by Carole Pateman, Nancy Fraser and Iris Marion Young, offer a framework of rights of inclusion. The praxis then becomes how these connect, and so I draw on models which can help identify processes of consciousness development and empowerment and the links to mobilisation, collective action and transformation. AGAINST GENDER CLOSURE REGIMES AND TOWARDS STRATEGIES OF INCLUSION Previously, my colleague Fiona Colgan and I (Ledwith and Colgan 2002) set out a model of overlapping and interrelated gender regimes of...
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