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This paper examines attempts to improve workers' rights in the Maquila Industry in Mexico by using two case studies. It analyzes the struggles that recently occurred at the Kukdong and Duro plants. The underlying question of the research is how to balance the co-existence of market economies with effective means to ensure adequate conditions for workers, and most importantly, ensuring their right to freedom of association. Under recent forms of global economic restructuring, the state is often unwilling or unable to uphold workers' rights. To combat the present form of corporate-driven global capitalism, workers in the South, in solidarity with activists in North have formed networks and developed unique strategies and organizing tools to enhance transnational network-building and information sharing. This research uses new social movement theory to examine power dynamics in the contemporary global economic system, and to conceptualize the internationalization of grassroots efforts among workers, activists, and other political actors to pressure transnational corporations and host governments to respect labor laws. It uses aspects of both the "cultural" and "political" versions of new social movement theory to heuristically analyze how.transnational networks among activists have come to play an influential role m local and global politics.


This article was originally published in International Journal of Contemporary Sociology, volume 41, issue 1, in 2004.

Peer Reviewed



Auburn University/Joensuu University Press



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