Research Issues

Universidad Obrera Lombardo Toledano (1975)

Universidad Obrera Lombardo Toledano (1975)

In Latin America, as in everywhere, those interested in the study of labour have been facing hard times; this being the outcome of a complex picture.

To begin with, the neo-liberal wave has neglected labour as a distinctive subject of research. On one side it has been considered as passive victim of structural adjustment policies/studies. On the other side it has been reduced to a managerial oriented perspective. Then unsurprisingly, new academic fashions started to replace labour by themes with bigger institutional and financial purchase. Even worse, labour studies had become stereotype and the labour movement was in retreat. In this context, labour studies in on Latin America decreased and the Continent lost in the academic circles part of its previous appeal.

At the same time important streams of social mobilisation flowed from outside the river of traditional labour movement. Thus, they were mainly approached through a perspective that tended to underestimate its direct connection with the world of labour. The increasing dis-articulation of formal labour and the growing relevance of marginalised groups promoted a framework reminiscent of that of the social movement literature. However, in our view, it is important to stress once more that these new phenomena have to be analysed from a perspective in which labour, that is the capacity of material reproduction, remains the fundamental social relation. The direct connection between labour and social mobilisation seems evident if we look at Latin America: Piqueteros in Argentina, Partido dos Trabalhadores and Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais sem Terra in Brazil, Zapatistas in Mexico, or indigenous mobilisation in Bolivia and Ecuador. All these events emphasise the centrality of labour in the understanding of the social world.

Thus, LabourAgain aligns itself with those who have not given up taking labour as its main focus; LabourAgain attempts to contribute the revitalisation of labour and social mobilisation studies; LabourAgain aims to fulfil this ambition through the following research issues:

a- Industrial relations and the study of formal labour:
b- The Informatisation of Production
c- Rural labour and informal sector
d- Social mobilisation