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Contested Solidarity: Moral Economies in the Trade Union Movement of the 1970s and 1980s

As part of post-1968 modernization, the West German trade union movement experienced a revival in the 1970s. The Federal German Republic witnessed a new highpoint of solidarity. At the same time, disputes surrounding the meaning of the concept point to a series of contemporary fields of conflict. Trade unions were not only challenged by economic crisis and the emergence of post-Fordist forms of employment, but also by new social movements and actors. The trade union movement appeared as a social interface where different practices informed by social values and emotions confronted one another.

The project aims to investigate the changes in conceptions of solidarity and its social preconditions. The trade union movement will serve as a lens through which to consider moral economies of that period in their relations to institutions. The research will thus start with immigrant workers who gained prominence in the labor struggles of the early seventies through so-called "wildcat strikes". How were tensions of inclusion and exclusion negotiated? How were notions of the "other" transformed? The second part of the dissertation will look at the new emphasis on international solidarity following the 1973 military coup in Chile. This gives rise to the question: how do historical concepts of internationality relate to the idea of human rights? Since solidarity is constitutive for the trade union movement, tracking the history of the concept will make it possible to flesh out its emergence and cohesion. In particular, it will focus on the double character of solidarity as being both a moral principle and a shared emotion.

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Supervisor

Prof. Alexander Nützenadel