Class Acts: An Anthropology of Service Workers and Their Union

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Paradigm Publishers, 2005 - Political Science - 216 pages
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U.S. labor leaders are constantly developing new programs to revive the union movement. What happens when these plans collide with the daily lives of front-line union staff and members? This book examines the often conflicting interests of key players in the trenches of a national effort to bring back the U.S. labor movement.

Brutally honest, funny, and never dull, this anthropological ethnography shows the daily struggles of union members today to bring about positive change and hold together their urban labor union in an era of globalization, outsourcing, and deindustrialization.

The authors, a union activist and an anthropologist respectively, pair up to offer insider views of labor unions and of how anthropological fieldwork is done. Explaining, coaching, and warning Paul of hazards, Suzan, the communications director for the local union, provides inside views and details of day-to-day interactions. Paul, the anthropologist, provides outside analytical views that relate Suzan's experiences and his own observations to the wider view anthropology offers through the lenses of ethnography, holism, and comparativism.

The result is a story of one dynamic union local, one anthropological study, and the lit fuse that connects them until the end.

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Contents

Introduction
1
Taking It on the Road
9
What a Union Looks Like
25
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

E. Paul Durrenberger was Professor of Anthropology for twenty-five years at the University of Iowa before moving to Pennsylvania State University. He has published many influential articles and books. Suzan Erem is a freelance writer for unions and the author of Labor Pains: Inside America's New Union Movement (Monthly Review Press, 2001). They are coauthors of Class Acts: An Anthropology of Service Workers and Their Union (Paradigm 2005).

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