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Research Overview

The general aim of my research is to understand the current struggle over the future European Union (EU) economic-political model and the possibilities for resistance against the emerging neo-liberal, Anglo-American model of capitalism with a particular emphasis on the role of trade unions.

My doctoral research project analysed the Austrian and Swedish accessions to the EU in 1995. With the help of a neo-Gramscian, historical materialist perspective it is established that alliances of internationally-oriented and transnational social forces of capital and labour respectively, supported by those institutions linked to the global economy such as the Finance Ministries, were behind the drive towards the EU. Resistance by national capital and labour, but also the Green Parties in both countries and additionally the Left Party in Sweden, could not prevent membership. The findings have been published in

  • Bieler, Andreas (2000) Globalisation and Enlargement of the European Union: Austrian and Swedish Social Forces in the Struggle over Membership. London/New York: Routledge. PP.1-196. ISBN 0-415-21312-6. [Sample chapter].

My next research project dealt with trade unions and EMU in times of globalisation. The goal of this project was to investigate and compare the positions of the trade unions of five European Union (EU) member states, France, Germany, Austria, Sweden and the UK, on Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The focus of this project, however, was not limited to EMU as a case study. Rather, EMU was regarded as a vehicle to assess trade unions’ options and possibilities to respond to global structural change in general and to participate in the formation of the future economic-political system of the EU in particular. This project was supported by a Small Research Grant from the British Academy (SG-33623) and the findings are published in

  • Bieler, Andreas (2006) The Struggle for a Social Europe: Trade unions and EMU in times of global restructuring. Manchester: Manchester University Press. PP.1-254. ISBN 0-7190-7252-2. [Sample chapter].

This focus on trade unions has then led to a trilogy of collaborative research projects with scholars from around the world investigating in more detail the general possibilities of trade unions to play an active role in the resistance to neo-liberal restructuring of the global economy and to form relations of transnational solidarity. The first project in this area was the Global Working Class project which intended (1) to provide a general overview of national labour movements; (2) to map out the responses of trade unions to the challenges of neo-liberal globalisation; and (3) to assess possible strategies for a revival of labour internationalism based on transnational solidarity. The results of this project were published in

The second project of the trilogy then focused on concrete case studies of successful and failed instances of transnational solidarity in order to understand better the obstacles to and possibilities for relations of solidarity across borders. The results were published in

The third and final project of the trilogy deals with the specific area of free trade agreements and the related differences between trade unions from industrialised countries and labour movements in the Global South. A related workshop was held at Nottingham University on 2 and 3 December 2011. The results were published in

  • Bieler, Andreas, Bruno Ciccaglione, John Hilary and Ingemar Lindberg (eds.) (2014) Free Trade and Transnational Labour. London: Routledge. [link]

 

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