The Sociology of Trade Unions

The Sociology of Trade Unions

This seminar will be held via zoom

Use password 795617

The sociology of trade unions was initiated by the work of Marx and Engels. There were important contributions by later Marxists, including Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky, Gramsci and more recently Tony Cliff and Richard Hyman, and also by the Webbs, Robert(o) Michels, C. Wright Mills, Ralph Dahrendorf and others employing functionalist or pluralist frameworks. The focus in this presentation is on the nature of the full-time officialdom of trade unions who are essential for the operation of any substantial union but whose social role is different from the workers who are union members. The relationship between the distinctive features of this class layer and important social developments in Australia will be illustrated briefly with reference to the Prices and Incomes Accord of the 1980s and 1990s and union responses to the Covid crisis, particularly by the National Tertiary Education Union.

About the presenter:

Rick Kuhn is an Honorary Associate Professor in Sociology at ANU. His Henryk Grossman and the Recovery of Marxism won the 2007 international Deutscher Prize ‘for a book which exemplifies the best and most innovative new writing in or about the Marxist tradition’ in 2007. His interests and the areas in which he has published include aspects of Australian, Austrian, German and international political economy; Marxist theory; and the Australian labour movement. He edited, introduced and was one of the translators of four volumes of Grossman’s works (approximately 900,000 words), the second and third of which are scheduled to appear later this year. Rick has been an active participant in and observer of Australian trade unions for over 40 years.

Date & time

Mon 03 Aug 2020, 1–2pm


online via zoom


Rick Kuhn


School of Sociology


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