Unemployed Workers’ Centres (1978–): Spatial Politics,“Non-Movement”, and the Making of Centres

Paul Griffin*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This paper revisits the histories of Unemployed Workers’ Centres to consider the politicisation of unemployment in the UK. Drawing upon archive material and over 50 oral histories, it considers the emergence of centres as a response to a crisis of increasing unemployment and retrenchment of the welfare state. The paper indicates how Asef Bayat’s concept of “non-movement” proves useful for capturing a wider sphere of labour organising, moving beyond more conventional spaces and actions. This approach critically revisits the role of centres in conversation with emerging work in labour geography and social movements studies around the fostering of solidarities. It reveals tensions around their making, whilst also stressing the potential of seemingly small acts when held alongside campaigns. Revisiting this repertoire of activity reveals the persistence of trade union engagements with communities beyond the workplace, as well as a critical insight into the politics of space in forging such alternatives.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalAntipode
Early online date27 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Oct 2022

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