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Labour (dis)united

Labour (dis)united

Disputed legitimacies within the British labour movement

4 April 2016

Time 09:00 - 19:00

Duration 10 hours

Cost £20 (includes refreshments, lunch and drinks reception)

9.00am – 6.00pm (drinks reception 6.00pm – 7.00pm)

This interdisciplinary conference brings together historical and contemporary perspectives on the study of the British labour movement, from the point of view of the tensions that have, time and again, challenged it, if not fractured it, from the inside.

Organised by the Centre for Research on the English-speaking World (CREW / Sorbonne Nouvelle University) and sponsored by the Society for the Study of Labour History (SSLH) and the Labour Movements Group of the Political Studies Association (PSA).

The study of labour organisations as such has sometimes been criticised as too institutional.  Yet the organisers of the conference believe that the turn towards a ‘new labour history’ in the 1960s-1970s and a ‘global labour history’ since the 2000s, far from making the study of organisations outdated, has continuously generated, and will continue to generate, innovative research on ‘old’ topics such as: the Labour Party, the CPGB, trade unions, the Co-operative movement, friendly societies, etc.

The focus on internal dissensions is a particularly enticing avenue of investigation, precluding any celebration of a linear and consensual ‘forward march of Labour’.

The ‘disputed legitimacies’ evoked in the title of the conference are analysed on three different levels: the level of intra-organisational tensions (for example the strife between trade union officials and rank-and-file members in times of industrial action); the level of inter-organisational tensions (such as disputes between trade unionists and Labour Party governments); and the level of tensions between labour organisations and spontaneous working class protests, where new modes of organising may emerge.

Using the tools of social history, political science, sociology, anthropology, or a combination of those approaches, the papers presented during the conference will emphasise the intricacies and complexities of such situations.

Conflicts of legitimacy within the labour movement have repeatedly raised the issue of who can claim to speak on behalf of labour organisations and working class people.  This conference will allow us to identify more clearly and from new perspectives long-term convergences and divergences in terms of both organisational structures and decision making processes.

Full programme available on the conference website.

Academic conference suitable for adults and young people

  • Treat yourself to 15% off in The Left Bank cafe bar and 10% off in the museum shop when you attend an event at the People’s History Museum
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Booking Requirements: Booking required via the organisers – please contact Emmanuelle Avril, emmanuelle.avril@univ-paris3.fr and Yann Béliard, yann.beliard@univ-paris3.fr