Articulating agency : a case study of the strategies used by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union in servicing South African seafarer.
In theorising globalisation, capital is represented as all-powerful and proactive in its mobility and ability to transcend national boundaries in search of new labour markets. It is this mobility of capital. which is argued to be instrumental in shaping the processes of globalisation (Ohmae: 1989, Allen: 1995: Thompson et al: 1998. Dicken: 1998). Labour in contrast is portrayed as fixed within territorial boundaries unable to shape or influence its own destiny or the processes of globalisation. These opposing discourses of capital as the prime agent of globalisaton and labour as a passive participant in the process have predominantly informed the debates about globalisation, and have remained mostly unchallenged in the literature. This dissertation interrogates claims of capital being all-powerful via its mobility and labour being 'agentless' in influencing the processes of globalisation. In order to achieve this I use the global shipping industry' as an example to explores these arguments. This is achieved by investigating the complex ways that relationships between shipping capital and seafaring labour have changed and how these changed relationships are articulated. Specifically I examine the strategies used by South African Transport and Allied Workers to service a transnational and flexible membership. My findings suggest that the 'agentless' nature of labour in shaping the processes of globalisatlon is exaggerated by proponents of the transnational neo-liberal discourse of globalisation.
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