Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Josef Korbel School of International Studies

First Advisor

George DeMartino, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Aaron Schneider

Third Advisor

Karin Wedig


Class and class consciousness, Labor movement, Labor ontology, Labor organizing strategies, Labor unions, Worker cooperatives


This dissertation examines to what extent union-cooperative partnerships in the U.S. and S. Korea might revitalize labor movements and to what extent class-based narratives (or their absence) shape labor movements. Exploring competing labor ontologies, the dissertation analyzes how variants of traditional Marxism and poststructural thinking shape labor campaigns. Through a historical review of union and worker coop activism, and modern case studies of union-coop partnerships among taxi drivers and bus drivers, the dissertation analyzes the consequences of organizing "with" and "without" class narratives.

These labor histories and case studies lend support to the poststructural claim that class identity is constructed and contingent, varying by political-cultural context. However, these case studies undermine the poststructural critique that traditional notions of "class" are unimaginative and disempowering of diverse organizing projects that do not speak of "class." Countering such arguments, this dissertation provides evidence that in labor organizing, class narratives remain powerful and necessary. Without talk of class in Denver, unionized cooperative taxi drivers constricted their field of action to maximizing individual economic gains through business ownership. The results of their activism were therefore limited. In labor activism, talk of class remains a generative force, capable of uniting workers, challenging regimes, and crafting alternative economies.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Minsun Ji


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

447 p.


Labor Relations, Political Science, International Relations