Handbook of Employment and Society
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Handbook of Employment and Society

Working Space

Edited by Susan McGrath-Champ, Andrew Herod and Al Rainnie

This Handbook deepens and extends the engagement between research concerned with work and employment and labour geography. It links fundamental concepts concerning the politics of place that human geographers have developed in recent years with the world of work.
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Chapter 14: Workers in Space


Al Rainnie, Andrew Herod and Susan McGrath-Champ [U]nionism can still stake a claim to constitute a popular movement, by imaginative engagement in a battle of ideas. Trade unions have to discover a language which can express aspirations, projects, even utopias which are consistent with the principles which inspired the movement in the past but which address the very different world in which we live today. And as part of this process they have to recognize – as many unions indeed have done, often painfully – that there are other social movements which have captured the enthusiasm, particularly among the young, that unions have largely lost; and that it is necessary to seek common ground with these. (Hyman, 2002, pp. 14–15) In this part of the book we turn to questions of how our form of spatially informed analysis seeks to incorporate workers and communities as active agents in determining the shape and location(s) of their lives. In particular, we concentrate on questions of union organisation and scales of resistance in the last section of this chapter. Before doing so, however, we start with a more general analysis of globalisation and work, for globalisation appears to be fundamentally reworking the parameters within which workers must live and in which labour markets function. Globalising work? We have already seen that work is becoming increasingly urbanised and that the gap between rich and poor is becoming wider, both socially and in terms of the spatial worlds that rich and poor seem to...

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