The European Marches Network against Unemployment, Job Insecurity and Social Exclusion : collective action beyond class?
This thesis is a study of the development of the European Marches Network against
Unemployment, Job Insecurity and Social Exclusion. It is considered as a component of an
emerging international social movement that has contested the consequences of neoliberal
European integration to develop the goal of a social and democratic Europe as part of a
different world order.
This study engages critically with the dominant sociological paradigm of social movements
that renders the class politics associated with the labour movement as anachronistic. This
paradigm asserts that fundamental socio-structural changes dictate that to be progressive,
contemporary new social movements (NSMs) have to operate according to a new logic of
collective action that is beyond class.
The Network is investigated through the application of ethnographic methods that are
integrated into a dialectical analysis. This methodological approach involved the author taking
the role of `activist-researcher' that was consistent with his commitment to producing
knowledge that was not only about progressive social change but also useful to the collective
struggle to achieve it.
The findings of the empirical investigation are presented under the headings of 'mobilisation',
'agenda formation' and 'organisation'. These headings represent three interconnected elements
of collective action that form the totality of the Network. The Network is related to the locally
and nationally based economic and social struggles through which it developed and is also
located within a broader international social movement of which it was a product and
Various elements of the Network arising from the investigation are discussed in relation to the
work of writers from the dominant paradigm. It is argued that the Network is not
comprehensible as a manifestation of a postmaterial politics that is beyond class, but rather as
a form of class politics in the present conjuncture of neoliberal restructuring. Therefore, it is
concluded that far from indicating the terminal decline of labour as a progressive social actor,
the Network suggests its renewal as a social movement.