Between breach and continuity: views on the history of the Brazilian trade union movement

Marco Aurélio Santana

The article analyses some of the views consolidated during the construction of political identities around the so-called "new unionism". These views, which arose in the late seventies through the coming together of the social movement and academic debate, were characterised by the idea of a clean break between the past and present of the Brazilian trade union movement, thereby establishing a gulf between the new and the old trade unionism. Taking into account the development of "new unionism" and further studies on the Brazilian labour movement, the author points out the limits of this perspective based on a breach with the past. Moreover, he presents an alternative interpretation that emphasises the continuity of certain practices in the workers' organisational experiences. Through examples, the article argues that the "new unionism" can be seen as continuing long-term traditions.

New unionism; Workers; Trade unionism pre-1964; Trade union studies; Brazil


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