Frames of class struggle: An ethnography about local labour and global capitalism during the “ThyssenKrupp Acciai Speciali Terni” steel plant strike in Terni, Central Italy

Saltalippi, Matteo. 2018. Frames of class struggle: An ethnography about local labour and global capitalism during the “ThyssenKrupp Acciai Speciali Terni” steel plant strike in Terni, Central Italy. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis, which focuses on a prolonged period of unrest that took place at the TK-AST
Terni steelworks in Central Italy in 2014 and addresses the ways in which labour activism
contributes to the articulation of working class self-identification and consciousness. The
thesis draws on anthropological approaches to class in a context of historical change that
requires the Terni workers to engage in multiple and contradictory relations with local
and global capital and with political entities. The thesis shows how contemporary labour
struggles incorporate coercion and solidarity and demonstrates that the strike is reassessed
as the main instrument of protest, while the Terni steelworkers’ political agency
fails to resonate with traditional repertoires of class struggle transmitted through
memories and narratives about a glorious past. Through visual ethnographic methods, the
thesis explores the steelworkers’ engagement with their current possibilities: film and text
draw on and illustrate the Terni workers’ search for visibility for their cause and show
how the fragmentation underpinning the organisation of production is reflected in the
different ways that contractors and blue and white-collar workers engage with the
struggle, thus undermining the emergence of a united front.

The thesis considers how new configurations and geographies of power undermine the
pivotal role of local trade unionists and shape the demands of workers and the innovative
forms of struggle they adopt to ensure media visibility. This leads to a proliferation of
new forms of struggle that reflect the fragmentation of the Terni labour force even while
they are pursuing the shared aim of safeguarding the future of the plant and the town. By
analysing workers while they are stepping outside the boundary of the protected sphere
of production and occupying public space, thereby transforming the economic struggle
into a political one, the thesis demonstrates that the working class has not disappeared
and highlights its relevance in the present socioeconomic landscape.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00024091

Keywords:

Visual Anthropology, Class Struggle, Ethnography, Labour, Capitalism, Terni, Central Italy

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Anthropology

Date:

31 July 2018

Item ID:

24091

Date Deposited:

22 Aug 2018 14:15

Last Modified:

11 Jun 2021 16:14

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/24091

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