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Title: Frames of class struggle : an ethnography about local labour and global capitalism during the 'ThyssenKrupp Acciai Speciali Terni' steel plant strike in Terni, Central Italy
Author: Saltalippi, Matteo
ISNI:       0000 0004 7427 4936
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis, which focuses on a prolonged period of unrest that took place at the TK-AST Terni steelworks in Central Italy in 2014 and addresses the ways in which labour activism contributes to the articulation of working class self-identification and consciousness. The thesis draws on anthropological approaches to class in a context of historical change that requires the Terni workers to engage in multiple and contradictory relations with local and global capital and with political entities. The thesis shows how contemporary labour struggles incorporate coercion and solidarity and demonstrates that the strike is reassessed as the main instrument of protest, while the Terni steelworkers’ political agency fails to resonate with traditional repertoires of class struggle transmitted through memories and narratives about a glorious past. Through visual ethnographic methods, the thesis explores the steelworkers’ engagement with their current possibilities: film and text draw on and illustrate the Terni workers’ search for visibility for their cause and show how the fragmentation underpinning the organisation of production is reflected in the different ways that contractors and blue and white-collar workers engage with the struggle, thus undermining the emergence of a united front. The thesis considers how new configurations and geographies of power undermine the pivotal role of local trade unionists and shape the demands of workers and the innovative forms of struggle they adopt to ensure media visibility. This leads to a proliferation of new forms of struggle that reflect the fragmentation of the Terni labour force even while they are pursuing the shared aim of safeguarding the future of the plant and the town. By analysing workers while they are stepping outside the boundary of the protected sphere of production and occupying public space, thereby transforming the economic struggle into a political one, the thesis demonstrates that the working class has not disappeared and highlights its relevance in the present socioeconomic landscape.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral