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IAS Workshop - Trade Unions in the Information Age

Date: 28-29 June 2006 Time: 10.30 am

ObjectivesThe crises of labour demand imaginative strategic thinking. The consideration of the internet and associated information communication technologies (ICTs) is vital to this process. A substantial literature has already been generated. Debate has been driven by concern with finding ways of building more effective forms in the face of the widespread and global 'crises' of trade unionism, while taking inspiration from the innovative counter-coordination of workers who have already demonstrated the potentialities of new ICTs, for example the Liverpool dockers. In their 1995-98 unofficial dispute the dockers revealed the capacity for the internet to be used for the generation of widespread international solidarity action.Developments in union presence on the internet, the routine use of electronic communications and the sponsorship of practitioner and academic reflection upon the possibilities and 'perils' provide clear indication of future possibilities. There is now a widespread availability of communication technologies that can be utilized at relatively low and distributed cost and accessed in transit and from the home, with processing and storage capacities that are growing exponentially and which can be readily deployed for the receipt, storage, auditing, manipulation and broadcast of information globally. Through intervention into these communicative spaces visibility is greatly enhanced, allowing for the auditing of the performance of individuals and institutions. The retention of memories and traditions that hitherto had so easily been broken or lost is also placed within grasp as never before. This drive to innovation can challenge established power relations and be internalised within labour institutions by the adoption of servicing and organising facilities which specifically address the need to operate outside of the disciplinary constraints of hostile workplaces and which recognise that the captured market of the occupationally concentrated community is no more.Workshop formatThis 2 day workshop is dedicated to exploring these claims and developing richer and deeper understandings of the implications of the "information age" for trade unionism and labour. It is deliberately open-ended and in-keeping with the IAS's aim to provide 'time to think' on crucial contemporary issues in a rich and supportive interdisciplinary environment. The emphasis is on thinking and dialogue rather than presentation of finished papers - although the aspiration is to edit a book or journal if participants feel this is appropriate.ParticipationWe will meet rail fare (advance purchase super saver fares) and overnight accommodation on campus on a first come first served basis.

Workshop Co-ordinatorsDr John Hogan, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Relations, University of HertfordshireSteve Fleetwood, Senior Lecturer in Organisation, Work & Technology, University of LancasterPeter Nolan, Montague Burton Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Leeds and Director of the ESRC Future of Work ProgrammeFurther detailsFor further details, please contact:Dr John Hogan, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Relations, University of Hertfordshire (

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Organising departments and research centres: Institute for Advanced Studies


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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