The Governmentalization of the Trade Union and the Potential of Union-Based Resistance. The Case of Undocumented Migrant Domestic Workers in the Netherlands Making Rights Claims

Anja Eleveld*, Franca Van Hooren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Ambivalence about rights is well known: rights may both challenge existing injustices while simultaneously re-enforcing sovereign regulatory control over citizens. In this article, we focus on the paradox that potentially radical and transformative claims to rights are made at a site – civil society – that under liberal governmentality has increasingly become a site of government. By exploring the unionization of undocumented migrant domestic workers (MDWs) in the Netherlands, we aim to show how rights claims are shaped and controlled by civil society. Using the analytical category of (in)visibility, the case study discloses the dualistic role of the union. On the one hand, the union operated as a site of resistance supporting undocumented MDWs to make their rights claims. On the other hand, it operated as a site of government of the same undocumented MDWs by selectively promoting work-related rights claims and excluding more radical claims for the right to come and go.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-615
Number of pages20
JournalSocial & Legal Studies
Volume27
Issue number5
Early online date28 Aug 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Governmentality
  • labour rights
  • migrant domestic workers
  • performative rights
  • trade union

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