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Understanding Strikes in the 21ST Century: Perspectives from the United States

Power and Protest

ISBN: 978-1-83909-835-2, eISBN: 978-1-83909-834-5

ISSN: 0163-786X

Publication date: 2 March 2021


After decades of declining strike rates in the industrialized world, recent years have seen a surge of militant walkouts in the global South, political strikes in Europe, and unconventional strikes in nonunion sectors in the United States. This new diversity of strike action calls for a new theoretical framework. In this paper, we review the historical strengths and limits of traditions of strike theory in the United States. Building on the emerging power resources approach, we propose a model based on a multidimensional view of associational power, power resources, and arenas of conflict in the economy, state, and civil society. We demonstrate the utility of our approach via a case analysis of strikes in the “Fight for $15” campaign in the United States.




The authors gratefully acknowledge helpful comments by Jasmine Kerrissey, Pablo Perez Ahumada, Joel Stillerman, Joshua Murray, Michael Schwartz, Eddie Webster, and the reviewers for Research in Social Movements, Conflict and Change. Any errors remain our sole responsibility.


Rhomberg, C. and Lopez, S. (2021), "Understanding Strikes in the 21ST Century: Perspectives from the United States", Leitz, L. (Ed.) Power and Protest (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 44), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 37-62.



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