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Organising for what? Where is the debate on the politics of organising?

Melanie Simms and [Jane Holgate]
Work, Employment and Society, 24, 1, 157-168


Many unions that have adopted ‘new’ organising approaches have tended to see organising as a ‘toolbox’ of practices rather than as having an underpinning political philosophy or objective. Adopting such an approach has left out the fundamental question of what are we1 organising ‘for’? Academics studying these developments have tended to evaluate organising outcomes against whatever objectives unions have set themselves and have not dealt with the question of what organising is and what it is for. It is important to examine the politics and processes underpinning organising activity and to keep in mind these fundamental questions. We (re)examine the political dynamics of organising and argue that there is a need for a more robust notion of power and the centrality of worker self-organisation in organising objectives.