Industrial structure, the state, and ideology: Shaping labor transnationalism in the Brazilian auto industry

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This article explores labor transnationalism in the Brazilian auto sector. It argues that industrial structure, state institutions and practices, and labor ideologies affect the form and frequency of labor transnationalism. In Brazil in the 1980s, labor transnationalism was mostly limited to information exchange and occasional economic support, and political pressure in the form of letters of solidarity from foreign unionists. By the 1990s, when Brazil opened itself to world trade in the auto sector by dramatically lowering tariffs and domestic content requirements, labor began to pursue new strategies. Yet while facing similar challenges in the same industry and at times within the same corporation, unions of opposing political tendencies pursued different strategies. Conservative unions responded to economic globalization by deepening their ties with the government and the business sector, while left-oriented unions increasingly made use of new forms of transnational actions. By the early 2000s, in Ford and Volkswagen, solutions to labor conflicts were achieved after Brazilian auto unionists traveled to the headquarters of the auto firms in Detroit and Wolfsburg and negotiated directly with corporate headquarters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-634
Number of pages32
JournalSocial Science History
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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