Date of Thesis

Spring 4-2012

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis

Department

International Relations

First Advisor

Hilbourne A. Watson

Second Advisor

Alejandra Roncallo

Abstract

The response of some Argentine workers to the 2001 crisis of neoliberalism gave rise to a movement of worker-recovered enterprises (empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores or ERTs). The ERTs have emerged as former employees took over the control of generally fraudulently bankrupt factories and enterprises. The analysis of the ERT movement within the neoliberal global capitalist order will draw from William Robinson’s (2004) neo-Gramscian concept of hegemony. The theoretical framework of neo-Gramscian hegemony will be used in exposing the contradictions of capitalism on the global, national, organizational and individual scales and the effects they have on the ERT movement.

The ERT movement has demonstrated strong level of resilience, despite the numerous economic, social, political and cultural challenges and limitations it faces as a consequence of the implementation of neoliberalism globally. ERTs have shown that through non-violent protests, democratic principles of management and social inclusion, it is possible to start constructing an alternative social order that is based on the cooperative principles of “honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others” (ICA 2007) as opposed to secrecy, exclusiveness, individualism and self-interestedness. In order to meet this “utopian” vision, it is essential to push the limits of the possible within the current social order and broaden the alliance to include the organized members of the working class, such as the members of trade unions, and the unorganized, such as the unemployed and underemployed. Though marginal in number and size, the members of ERTs have given rise to a model that is worth exploring in other countries and regions burdened by the contradictory workings of capitalism. Today, ERTs serve as living proofs that workers too are capable of successfully running businesses, not capitalists alone.

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