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Ideas that work: mobilizing Australian workers using a discourse of rights.

Ainsworth, Susan; Cutcher, Leanne; Thomas, Robyn


Susan Ainsworth

Leanne Cutcher

Robyn Thomas


In this paper we focus on a potential mechanism for revitalizing unions’ influence as broader political actors: their use of familiar and appealing discourses to frame political campaigns. Through a discursive analysis of campaign texts, we show how the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) successfully promoted a counter discourse, which operated as a collective action frame to mobilize alternative meanings, identities and possibilities for agency that preceded the eventual repeal of radical employment relations legislation. In doing so, we demonstrate the role and potential of discourse in revitalization strategies available to the union movement. We conclude by arguing that the ability of unions to challenge and shape discourses to their advantage can be a powerful force in the regulation of labour markets and in the shaping of employment relations.


Ainsworth, S., Cutcher, L., & Thomas, R. (2012). Ideas that work: mobilizing Australian workers using a discourse of rights. International Journal of Human Resource Management,

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2012
Deposit Date Oct 4, 2013
Print ISSN 0958-5192
Electronic ISSN 1466-4399
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Discourse, framing; industrial relations; mobilizing; unions;
Public URL
Publisher URL http:/

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