In an economic hegemony underwritten by the burning of fossil fuels – the fossil fuel regime – meeting the challenge of climate change will alter patterns of production and consumption and have far-reaching consequences for workers.
‘Work’ is an important constitutive factor of our social worlds and is the primary means by which capitalism interacts with nature to produce value. However, the economic transformations required to address climate change mean that many forms of work we take for granted will no longer be viable. When considering such transformations, issues of power and agency are central to political equations around who wins and who loses from any proposed change. Workers, as collective social actors, have agency to reshape economic landscapes of production and reproduction. In particular, workers have the capacity to resist the logics of the fossil fuel regime through which climate change is produced. The aim of this qualitative research project is to explore how and where workers are exercising agency in resistance to the incumbent fossil fuel regime. It adopts an exploratory case study approach that investigates different sites of resistance where workers are organising to resist the fossil fuel regime. These will include worker cooperatives, traditional union backed campaigns, and non-union forms or organising.
The project forms the basis of Connor’s PhD and will be published as a thesis by the end of 2022. Situated within labour geography, it aims to expand the discipline by making an empirical contribution towards a new subfield of environmental labour geography. The results will also contribute to advancing the policy discussion around Just Transitions in Australia and beyond.