Diversity in the Work Force

ISBN: 978-0-76230-788-3, eISBN: 978-1-84950-107-1

ISSN: 0277-2833

Publication date: 30 October 2004


It has been argued that the workplace and the labor market in general, by processes of education, mobility and competition, have become the main forces behind the individualization and atomization in societies and in people’s lives. This paper inquires into the tensions between solidarity, identity, and individualism among workers in their efforts to organize collective struggles to improve their workplaces and their lives. Drawing on the dilemmas of increased diversity in the new workplace, the paper delineates three models of organized labor: (1) The Universalist-Individualist model of organized labor, peaking at the New Deal crisis and embedded in National Labor Relations Act, as an attempt to establish universal solidarity, which suppressed differences and presented a unified worker voice; (2) The Separatist model, which emerges as a reaction to intragroup exclusion and involves fragmentation of workers into identity groups, each representing the interests of its members; (3) The Coalitionist-Altruist model, envisioned in the paper as a middle ground between solidarity and self-interest, through interrelated moves: a move from totalizing universal solidarity to coalitionist solidarity through continuous dialogue and “rotation of centers” and a move from rights-based identity politics and the dominance of employment antidiscrimination claims to a fuller substantive theory for social reform.


Lobel, O. (2004), "BETWEEN SOLIDARITY AND INDIVIDUALISM: COLLECTIVE EFFORTS FOR SOCIAL REFORM IN THE HETEROGENEOUS WORKPLACE", DiTomaso, N. and Post, C. (Ed.) Diversity in the Work Force (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 14), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 131-164.



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