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Swedish Trade Unionism – a Renewed Social Movement?

Conference contribution
Authors Abby Peterson
Mattias Wahlström
Magnus Wennerhag
Published in XVII World Congress of Sociology, Göteborg, 11-17 july 2010
Publication year 2010
Published at Department of Sociology
Language en
Subject categories Sociology


A Legion of literature has developed referring to a ‘new labour internationalism’ emerging that is a significant break from the influential post-war trend of nation-statist unionism. From the horizon of the Swedish labour movement we interrogate this popular paradigm. On the basis of a questionnaire distributed among marchers during the 2009 May 1st labour demonstrations in Gothenburg we evaluate the potential among grassroots union activists to lend their solidarity to labour struggles beyond Sweden’s borders, as well as their political concern in general for the wider global issues of environmental threats, third world poverty, and human rights. On the basis of interviews with union officials, together with relevant union documents, we investigate union leadership’s position towards trans-border cooperative efforts within the European Union Movement, as well as towards collaboration with other social movement NGO’s on specific issues. The questions we pose focus the Swedish Labour Union’s position towards European labour strategies in the face of the global economic and climate crises and whether these positions can be interpreted as including international solidarity or rather, explicitly or implicitly, elements of chauvinism, paternalism and protectionism. In conclusion we juxtapose our findings from the two studies to investigate differences in support for trans-border union activism.

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