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The internet and the politics and processes of trade unionism

By John Michael Christopher Hogan

Abstract

This thesis explores the implications of the internet for the politics and processes of trade unionism. Michels' classic formulation on the "iron law of oligarchy" and its grounding in a communications based theory of leadership domination is presented as a heuristic devise for uncovering the significance of Information Communication Technologies for trade unionism. The present relationship of\ud trade unionism and the internet in the United Kingdom is characterized and the potentialities for union democratization are presented. A set of concrete case\ud studies of rank and file union internet activism are investigated. This thesis seeks to extend analysis beyond formal decision making processes and to situate communicative pathways, structures and protocols, so that the task of grasping the full significance of Information Communication Technologies for trade unionism can begin. Arising from the presentation of case study materials, new\ud institutional patterning, politics and processes are revealed and uncovered. Established is a communicative network model of union communication, one that challenges traditional bureaucratic top down information models of union communication. With the supplementary powers revealed by the availability of distributed communication technologies leadership practices are challenged\ud within the new context of a distributed discourse. The thesis looks forward to a collective solidarity which may be beyond the structure and shape of the present institutional form of trade unions and draws out the perils, opportunities and dilemmas that the future may bring

Publisher: Leeds University Business School
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:664

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