Online social networking and trade union membership:
what the Facebook phenomenon truly means for labor organizers
Article #1 Review
Tarleton State University
This article attempts to address the pros and cons of social networking and it’s possible effects on union organization and membership. The author present a couple of examples as to possible ways that union organizers had access to people in the past and how some of these social meeting places are no longer used in masse for group outings. The authors, through their examples seem to imply that in the 1930’s and the 1940’s that our society was more social than it is today. They also suggest that maybe, in part, that the decline in union membership is due to people being more individualized and not socializing as they did in the past. The article presents that Facebook in a relatively short time ...view middle of the document...
The article goes on to compare society’s activities in the 1930’s, 1940’s and early 1950’s to the activities of today and present some assumptions as to how this effects the continued decline of union activity today. Did the decline in mass social trends have anything to do with the decline in unionism?
What I took away from this article was that people are more individualistic today. In one of the author’s examples they speak of employees meeting at the water cooler and discussing their work days. Today, we don’t do that. We sit at our computers and do our work and for the most part we rarely venture out of our offices. We spend more time socializing through social media, such as Facebook than getting together for outings at the beach or as in the article, public pools. Relatively few people go to public pools, instead they invest in their own. Again this promotes individualism. Can mass media replace the mass social gatherings in uniting people to a common cause to promote unionism? Or as In Republic.com, Cass Sunstein argued that while democratic engagement depends on shared experiences and requires citizens to be exposed to topics and ideas that they would not have otherwise chosen, the web affords individuals an unprecedented ability to filter out everything that they do not wish to see, hear, or read. It was the community togetherness that helped with the growth of unions in the earlier decades. The mass social events gave them a sense of solidarity.
Although Facebook has the potential to reach millions, the union will have to develop a campaign that will appeal to the masses and that will keep them from filtering out the unions information. So, to me the question is will the union try to use today’s modern technology to infuse new blood into a flailing organization or continue old school style and work the more human approach of face to face marketing.
References: Labor History
Vol. 51, No. 1 February 2010, 41-53
Authors: Alex Bryson, Rafael Gomez, Paul Willman
“NEISR and CEP, London, UK; Department of Management London School of Economics, London