Fagforeningernes rationaliteter - et diskursanalytisk blik på tre akademiske foreningers strategiarbejde

Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article – Annual report year: 2011

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Rationalities in trade union work – a discourse analytical investigation of strategy work in three academic trade unions in Denmark Within the last decades it has become widely accepted among Danish trade unions of managerial and professional staff that the trade unions should be governed by standards of ‘strategic management’. Traditionally the practices of trade unions – even those organizing white collar employees – have been informed by political and professional agendas and objectives, but the discourse of ‘strategic management’ seem to transform the way the trade unions reflect on their raison d’être, visions, and operations. The ambition of the article is to analyze the discursive practices of three Danish trade unions for professional and managerial staff (The Society for Danish Engineers, The Association of Lawyers and Economists and The Danish Association for Masters and PhD’s) as found in their strategy and position papers. Using discourse analytic methods the article analyses, discuss and compare the current strategy papers of the three unions in order to investigate how they problematize their roles and objectives. This investigation clarifies the discursive premises of the unions and it shows how these premises restrain and afford their agendas. Thus the overall purpose of the article is to investigate and describe the dominant logics and rationalities that have shaped the documents and to point to their limits and bounds. This archeological investigation is the point of departure for a critical examination of the implicit and tacit naturalizations made in the documents that reviles the ideological presuppositions of the discursive practices of the authors. Besides documenting how ‘strategic management’ has become an integral part of Danish trade unions practices the article discuss this trend in relation to the general neo-liberal decentering of the ‘social’ and promotion of ‘community’ as the locus of governance. Through examples from the practices of the Danish trade unions the article substantiates how new technologies of governance and the subjection of union members as ‘customers’ tend to transform the role of the trade unions from the position of ‘political actors’ to ‘service providers’ in the advanced liberal societies. In closing the article gestures to possible contestations, points of resistance and alternative discourses that are silenced in the strategy documents of the unions. By highlighting these vantage points the article suggest potential avenues for reorientation of the strategic practices of the unions. The critical potential of the article aims to readdress issues and fundamental questions about solidarity, identity, inclusion and exclusion, the territoriality of the unions, political ambitions, etc. By destabilizing the predominant neo-liberal discourses of the trade unions the article thus aims to point to alternative discursive resources and practices for strategy development.
Original languageDanish
JournalTidsskrift for Arbejdsliv
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)85-102
StatePublished - 2011
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