Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science


R. O'Brien


The primary goal of the thesis is to examine the role ofthe European labour movement as

policy coordinator at the trarisnationallevel of governance and to analyse the significance

of labour-related collective action for the development of the Social Dimension. The first

chapter provides a literature review outlining the obstacles that constrain labour

organisation at the European level, as well as a description of the analytical framework

utilised in the thesis to assess the importance of transnational labour activity for the

Social Dimension. Chapters two and three constitute the core of the thesis, with the focus

of analysis centred on the strategic orientation of the labour movement as both social

partner and social movement organisation. By differentiating between the two roles,

social partner and social movement, the thesis explores the impact of labour-related

collective action on the European decision-making process; the distinction between

strategies of transnational labour activity highlights the emergence of a traditional model

oftrade unionism and alternative forms of labour organisation between trade unions and

nongovernmental organisations. Data for the case study is drawn from primary and

secondary sources and involves both descriptive and interpretive content analysis of

European official documents as well as on-line databases and web pages. The findings

suggest that the European labour movement has made significant progress in influencing

the direction of European integration so as to include a social dimension. However,

labour's access to the decision-making process continues to be limited by the shifting

political opportunity structure that defines transnational governance in the European

Union. The thesis concludes with an explanation of the broader implications of

transnational labour-related collective activity for capital-labour relations and the policy

making process that go beyond the boundaries of the nation-state.

McMaster University Library

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