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Abstract

This paper presents an argument for a serious engagement of labour studies with spatial analysis through a focused study on the labour movement in New York City. In it, I wish to make two claims: firstly, that there are spatial foundations to trade union power at the urban scale which are becoming more prominent in the current era of neoliberal globalization, and secondly, that local particularities in working class formation and institutionalization are highly relevant, if too often ignored, variables required to understand the current predicament of the American labour movement. The argument is developed by working out an intellectual puzzle posed by the New York case in particular, namely, the continued strength of unions in a city which appears to typify the political economic transformations that have essentially de-unionized the American economy.

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