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 22: Working Space and the New Labour Internationalism

Rob Lambert and Michael Gillan


Rob Lambert and Michael Gillan Introduction: defining space The problem of the proper conceptualization of space is resolved through human practice. . . . (Harvey, 2006, p. 275) Our focus in this chapter is the challenge of constructing a New Labour Internationalism (NLI), one which aims at empowering workers to assert social needs over market logic. Such a type of internationalism, we would suggest, contrasts markedly with tendencies in the widely practised and long-standing model of Existing Labour Internationalism (ELI), whose essence Dan Gallin (2006, p. 4) has summarised thus: We do have an international trade union movement, such as it is. It has no vision, and it does not inspire anyone. Its principal organization, the ICFTU [International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, now the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)], has been mired for decades in lobbying activities in international institutions controlled by transnational capital. Despite the obvious failure of such activities to make any significant impact on the ground, there is no sign of a change in perspective. What we have here is an ideology of global ‘social partnership’. The NLI, then, is distinguished from this extant model through its leadership style, politics, global networked movement orientation, the framing of action and its self-conscious efforts to actively produce the global geography of capitalism in new and different ways than heretofore. For their part, the terms NLI and ELI can be understood as providing an evaluative conceptual framework for positioning international labour movements and organisational practices according to a series of binary oppositions...

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