Strengthening union democracy through connective and collective action logics
12 December 2022
Introduction: why is social media important for unions?In an age of digitalised activism and global decline in trade unionism, with a resulting loss of mobilisation power, the role of social media in union renewal and organising is increasingly important (Pasquier et al. 2020; Wood 2020). While unions may historically have been behind the digital curve (Houghton and Hodder 2019), union communication is increasingly focused online on existing social media platforms, such as Facebook, which has become the primary arena for looking at relationships between unions and their grassroots, or between the leadership and the rank-and-file. The question is not whether or not to engage with members online, but how to do so successfully.This policy brief explores the relationship between trade unions and their grassroots in the context of the rapid expansion of social media technologies. I use an already established distinction between collective and connective action logics. The former refers to the traditional dominant hierarchical and stable organisations of the labour movements and the Iatter to more decentred and horizontal organisations, suitable for online networks. Through this distinction, I argue that social media can support union revitalisation and strengthen the labour movement’s capacity to mobilise.