Session for the ISA World Congress of Sociology, July 2018, Toronto

Organized by Mark Thomas (York University)

In the years following the financial crisis of 2008, labour movements have been placed largely on the defensive as employers found opportunity to press for concessionary demands and governments embarked on neoliberal austerity programs to reduce expenditures and instill labour discipline. At the same time, populist discourses and movements have arisen on the right and left of the political spectrum in the wake of both a widespread sense of popular disenchantment with political and economic elites and concerns over rising inequality. In this context, populism has both given legitimacy to austerity measures and served as a direct challenge to austerity. This panel will explore intersections of labour and populism, considering the trajectories of populist discourses and movements, as well as the strategic dilemmas and opportunities these create for labour movements. In what ways do these connections present key challenges for labour movements in terms of collective organizing, representation, and bargaining? How have labour movements sought to embrace populism (both right and left variants) as a survival strategy or as a means to challenge austerity? In what ways may populist approaches foster new forms of labour organizing and representation? We encourage papers that theorize the current populist moment through the lens of labour, as well as case studies of the interaction between labour and populism.

To submit a paper to this session, please go to the following link: . Click the “Submit an Abstract to this Session” button to upload your submission. You will need to create an account with ISA if you do not have one already.

Please direct any questions to Mark Thomas at [email protected].

For basic info on the Congress, see

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