PhD thesis
Arbeitskonflikte. Auf der Suche nach gesellschaftlichen Auseinandersetzungen um Arbeit und Reproduktion

Publication Details
Heiden, M.
Publication year:

Labour Disputes: Hidden Conflicts About Work, Exhaustion and PrecaritySociologists identified crucial changes in Germany’s society and working world since the 1980’s. However besides these transformations, fundamental changes in labour conflicts have developed, which have not been considered adequately. This dissertation follows two objectives: Firstly, on the basis of sociological research, theories and theses it demonstrates how labour conflicts have transformed since fordism. Secondly, the dissertation investigates labour conflicts within enterprises and everyday life. This paper mainly focuses on the way labour and reproduction conflicts take place as well as on the impact of interests within these conflicts. Research is based on three case studies in the industry, service and construction sector. For this 116 interviews with employees and experts have been conducted.What seems to be contradicting is that, on the one hand the changes in labour lead to heavy burdens, insecurity and disrespect, on the other hand heavy collective conflicts concerning causes and impact of these changes failed to appear. Sociology explains this contradiction with a particular quality of labour transformation. Processes of “Entgrenzung”, “Subjektivierung”, “Ökonomisierung” and “Prekarisierung” not only lead to decentralisation of labour conflicts to the company level, moreover they cause individualisation of labour conflicts. Subjects internalize the contradiction between capital and labour. So to speak, nowadays employees do not strike anymore, but internalize these contradictions, which might cause mental strains and illness.The central thesis of this paper is that, labour conflicts become more and more part of every day life. The potential for conflicts, caused by burdens, insecurity and disrespect, does not simply disappear like the thesis of internalized contradictions claims. However new forms of everyday life conflicts unknown to the world of fordism arise. During the time of fordism labour conflicts were transferred from individual workplaces to the institutions of industrial relations. Nowadays this mode of conflict regulation has transformed to the opposite. Classical matters of dispute like payment and working hours are now becoming more and more objects of dispute in everyday life. At the same time employees today have changed needs and interests, which leads to the appearance of new matters of dispute.Investigating conflicts in every day life requires a modified term of conflict. Especially the theory of recognition and the sociological conflict theory are of great value for this. Inspired by sociological classics this dissertation develops a theoretical view, that empirically demonstrates up to now unknown forms of labour disputes. This is not only scientifically but also politically relevant. The findings show important areas of every day life conflicts. Additionally the research demonstrates remarkable collective forms of conflicts beyond the institutions of industrial relations.


Last updated on 2019-24-07 at 08:55