1st Edition

International Labour and the Third World The Making of a New Working Class

Edited By Rosalind E. Boyd, Robin Cohen, Peter C. W. Gutkind Copyright 1987

    Originally published in 1987, this book focusses on the debate around the international role of the working class and other dominated classes such as the rural and urban poor. The contributions discuss whether Marx’s original version of the revolutionary role of workers can still be sustained. They examine the response of workers to the globalisation of production, to structural unemployment in the industrialized world and to the changing composition of the workforce in the industrialising periphery. The volume questions the historic starting points in the theorization of international labour.

    Part 1: Theoretical Perspectives 1. Theorising International Labour Robin Cohen 2. World Market Competition and Restrictions Upon International Trade Union Policies Werner Olle and Wolfgang Schoeller 3. Labour and Development Paresh Chattopadhyay 4. Theorising the Class Struggle: The Vietnamese Experience Ken Post Part 2: Class Formation and the Labour Movement 5. The Formation of the Working Class in Central America Pierre Beaucage 6. The Labour Movement in Argentina and Brazil: A Comparative Perspective Ronaldo Munck 8. New Trends in the Internationalisation of Production: Implications for Female Workers Ofelia Gómez de Estrada and Rhoda Reddock 9. Cheap Labour in the ‘Informal Sector’ in Africa: The Case of Children and Apprentices Alain Morice 10. The ‘New’ International Division of Labour and the Sahel of the 1970s Jean Copans 11. Labour Migration and the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa John Loxley Part 4: Concluding Bibliography 12. A New International Labour Movement in the Making: A Bibliographical Note Peter Waterman 13. International Labour Studies: A Third World and Labour-Orientated Bibliography Peter Waterman and Matty Klatter.


    Robin Cohen is Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at the University of Oxford. For the first decade of his academic career, he worked on comparative labour issues. His books included Labour and Politics in Nigeria (1974) and the co-edited collections The development of an African working class (1975), International Labour and the Third World (1987), African Labor History (1978) and the current title, Peasants and Proletarians. He subsequently wrote on the themes of migration, globalization and diasporas. His best-known work is Global diasporas: An introduction (3rd edition, 2022).

    Peter Gutkind was a distinguished social anthropologist (and a noted pioneer in the field of urban anthropology) who was associated with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Warwick from 1986 until his death in 2001. He was Professor of Anthropology at McGill University for the majority of his career and President of the African Studies Association in the USA.

    Rosalind Boyd is an independent researcher, writer and lecturer based in Montreal and affiliated with McGill University since 1968. She was formerly (the only woman) Director of McGill’s Centre for Developing-Area Studies (CDAS), Director/principal investigator of the CDAS program on Gender and Human Security, Special Advisor on International Research to McGill’s Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) and founding Editor of the journal Labour, Capital and Society. Her research and publications focus primarily on conflict situations and also on gender, labour, globalization, human rights, migration, refugees, democracy and environmental health.

    Reviews of the original edition of International Labour and the Third World.

    ‘This wide-ranging collection of essays addresses a theme of central importance in an epoch of global class formation and economic restructuring. Central and Latin America, South Africa, and the implications of the new international division of labour for women and children receive specific treatment.’ Bryan D. Palmer, Labour / Le Travail, Vol. 23, (Spring, 1989).

    ‘The range of issues covered is …. an eclectic one, including gender, poverty, agricultural change, proletarianization, multinationals, international migration, and worker-based political change. … The volume concludes with a useful annotated bibliography classified by area and topic.’ Bryan Roberts,

    International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 13 (2), June 1989.

    In the first section … the contributors use substantive material in order to re-evaluate critically such concepts as ‘international trade unionism’, ‘labour’ and ‘class struggle’. … Contributors highlight the necessity to incorporate peasants into the category ‘working class’ and, thus, transform our perceptions of the nature of the labour movement.’ P. M. Glavinis, Work, Employment and Society, 2 (2), 1988.