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Title: Workers' Attitudes and Bourgeois Hegemony: Investigations of the Political Consciousness of Canadian Workers in the 1980s
Authors: Archibald, Peter W.
Langford, Tom
Keywords: Sociology;Sociology
Issue Date: Jun-1989
Abstract: <p>The principal objectives of this thesis are to deepen our understanding of the character of working class consent to capitalist domination in contemporary Canada, and to assess the possibilities for the development of an alternative hegemonic movement. The following four points are among the important findings of my research. (1) Canadian workers are generally to the Left of other classes on economic issues, and are far more libertarian on social issues than sociologists have commonly thought. (2) The social experiences which have an important influence on a wide range of workers' political attitudes are class background, manual nor nonmanual work, age, education, and residency in Quebec. (3) Many members of the Hamilton local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) did not continue to struggle in the weeks after the government legislated an end to their 1987 strike. They passively consented to management domination on the shopfloor and government domination of the negotiation process because they believed that nothing could be done to change the situation. In many cases these alienated workers' individual identities and priorities had taken precedence over their identification with the collective cause. This indicates that the mere presence of individual opportunities to do something else, even if they are not taken up, is often sufficient to deflect workers' dissatisfaction and build up a certain amount of active consent to the status quo in Canadian society. (4) In 1097-88 the national leadership of CUPW attempted to organize a broad cross-section of groups around its vision of a "worker- and service-oriented postal system." My assessment of the problems which plagued this political campaign suggests that a labour union will only be able to carry through a counter-hegemonic project in Canada if it has a strong service record and has nurtured grassroots activism over an extended period.</p>
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