Paul Thompson (University of Stirling, United Kingdom) held this talk at the symposium "Workers of the World - Exploring global perspectives on labour from the 1950s to the present" as the keynote speaker of session 2, "Labour at the Site of Production: Labour Process, Control, Quality of Work", chaired by Martin Krzywdzinski (Berlin Social Science Centre, Germany).

More information on the symposium:

More information:

New empirical approaches of labour studies in different world regions were the center of this symposium in Hanover in June 2017.

How can we arrive at global perspectives on labour, which reach beyond teleologies of a all-encompassing "race to the top" (or "to the bottom"), but also beyond the notion of everincreasing differentiation? This symposium explored overarching trends in the political as well as corporate regulation and in the forms of collective organisation of labour. Such an exploration is understood as a precondition for an adequate analysis of the dynamics of current capitalism. It needs to be based on an examination of linkages and similarities, differences and unevenness, as well as on the wide variety of work constellations resulting from such trends in different parts of the world. Towards this aim, the symposium brought together scholars from the social and historical sciences who are prepared to leave the comfort zone of highly specialized area studies, in a common quest for transnational perspectives. The global economic crisis of the mid-1970s functioned as a common point of reference, connecting post-war developments to the immediate pre-history of present constellations.

The conference comprised three sessions:

- Political Regulation of Labour: Trends and Contradictions
- Labour at the Site of Production: Labour Process, Control, Quality of Work
- Politics of Labour: Collective Action

A conference summary will be published on

Photo: David Carreno Hansen for Volkswagen Foundation