Commitment and collective identity of long-term union participation: the case of women union leaders in the UK and USA

Source: Gill Kirton, Geraldine Healy, Work, Employment & Society, Vol. 27 no. 2, April 2013
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From the abstract:
This article asks what sustains women union leaders’ long-term union participation given an internal environment often hostile to women and an external context antagonistic to unions. This article considers the dynamics of long-term participation by drawing on social movement interrelated concepts of commitment and collective identity in the context of a comparative study of American and British women union leaders. The study explores the experiences of 134 women union leaders, the majority of whom are long-term union participants. The findings reveal that commitment is strengthened by women’s experience of both expressive and intrinsic rewards but that such rewards are offset by costs, some of which are universal to union leadership, but others are particularly gendered. It was found that while a gendered collective identity may inform union collective identity, it is the union collective identity and associated solidarity that remains dominant in contemporary British and American women’s union leadership.