Unions and the World Social Forum Process:

Findings from the 2005 World Social Forum Survey

Ellen Reese, Christopher Chase-Dunn, Erika Gutierrez,

Rebecca Álvarez, Linda Kim, and Christine Petit

Department of Sociology and Institute for Research on

World-Systems,  University of California-Riverside

Assembly of Social Movements, Kasarani Complex, 2007 WSF, Nairobi


Abstract: Since it was first established in 2001, the World Social Forum has quickly become the largest international gathering of social activists who are opposed to neoliberalism. Our survey research at the 2005 WSF meeting in Porto Alegre examines the social characteristics, political behavior, and political views about global justice among participants. In this paper, we examine how WSF participants that belong to unions are similar and different from those who do not belong to unions and discuss the challenges and prospects that this creates for building international labor solidarity and community-labor alliances at the WSF..We find that nearly one-quarter of our survey participants belong to a union. Unionists are significantly more radical in their political goals and politically active compared to non-unionists. However, union members that we surveyed are fairly privileged workers. More than half of our sample of union members have 16 or more years of education, are male, and are employed as professional workers, technicians, artists, or employed in the skilled trades.


This paper was presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems in New York City on Sunday, August 12 at 12:20. The session was on “Neoliberalism and Global Conflict.” This session is sponsored by the Global Section of the SSSP and organized by Daniel Egan. 

v. 10-17-07 5908 words. This research is supported by a grant from University of California. Labor and Employment Research Fund (LERF ).



Initially organized by the Brazilian labor movement and the landless peasant movement in 2001, the World Social Forum (WSF) has quickly become the largest international gathering of social activists opposed to militarism and neoliberalism. Social Forums are an “open space” where participants in a variety of progressive social movements from around the world, or particular regions, can meet, exchange ideas, and coordinate actions. The 2005 meeting of the WSF drew 155,000 registered participants from 135 countries. Meanwhile, hundreds of regional, thematic, and local Social Forums have spread, particularly within Latin America and Western Europe.

       As the labor movement mobilizes to confront globalized capital it must squarely face the issues that divide workers across national boundaries and between the core and the non-core countries. And labor also needs to consider and to respond to the important issues raised by the other progressive movements in order to ally with them in campaigns to make world society more humane and sustainable. The WSF provides an important site through which unions and other labor activists can pursue both of these goals.

In this paper, we focus on the role of organized labor within the larger “movement of movements” for global justice. In particular, we examine through survey data the backgrounds and political attitudes of WSF participants who belong to unions, comparing them to the characteristics and attitudes of participants who do not belong to unions. There are two common images of organized labor. On the one hand, following the insights of Karl Marx, many understand unions to be the politically organized and class conscious wing of the working class, which is highly oppressed under capitalism. As such, they are often viewed as an important source of support for radical, anti-capitalist goals. The spread of “social movement unionism” has helped to revive this image of organized labor (Clawson 2003). On the other hand, because of the predominance of nationalism and “business unionism” within many countries around the world, unions are often understood to be highly bureaucratic, hierarchical organizations that pursue extremely narrow, self-interested political goals, such as improving wages and working conditions for their own members or workers within their own nations, sometimes at the expense of other workers.  Because many unions represent skilled workers, organized labor is also commonly understood to represent an “aristocracy of labor.” These latter images of unions shaped debates surrounding the Social Forum process, which were particularly heated at the time of the 2004 European Social Forum in London. Then, some grassroots activists embracing horizontal forms of organizing dismissed official Social Forums as co-opted and reformist spaces that were overly dominated by “vertical” organizations, such as trade unions (Glasius and Timms 2006). Of course, there is truth to both of these images of organized labor as the actual political orientation of individual union members, and their unions, varies considerably both within and between countries. The key question that we hope to address in this paper, is which of these images more accurately reflects the composition of union members attending the WSF in 2005. Before discussing our findings, we first discuss some of the reasons why unions are seeking to build more transnational ties to other unions and social movement activists within the WSF.

Organized Labor and the Global Political Economy

While the global nature of capitalism is not new, the intensity of economic globalization has increased remarkably over the past fifty years.  Economic globalization spread in the 20th century as a result of a wave of decolonization that began in the 1950s, the collapse of the communist bloc in Eastern Europe after 1989, and the spread of free market reforms across the globe that opened up new territories for capital investments and markets.  At the same time, improvements in transportation and communication reduced space-time barriers to the spread of global capital (Harris and Seid 2000; Mann 1997).  Coupled with the rise of neoliberal policies, economic globalization has intensified economic inequality both within and between nations, and has fueled a “race to the bottom” in which workers’ rights and working conditions are constrained by the pursuit of profit. Policy-makers actively promoted free trade policies, claiming that they would promote economic growth and lead to higher wages and better employment opportunities for workers. However, in the 1980s and 1990s, millions of factory workers in the global north and parts of the global south were priced out of the market, lost their jobs, and were forced to enter low-wage service industries as factory jobs were outsourced and relocated abroad (Minnich 2003; Alderson and Nielson 2002; Levine 1995; Moody 1997; Bonacich & Appelbaum 2000).

Public policies, including tax, welfare, and labor laws, play an important role in mediating the impacts of economic globalization (Levine 1995). The extent to which protective labor legislation, social welfare, and corporatism can continue to minimize the detrimental effects of economic globalization on workers is uncertain, however, because of the spread neo-liberal doctrines. Such doctrines uphold the virtues of a free market society and market values and oppose governmental regulations of the economy.  This anti-statist rhetoric obscures the real nature of neoliberal reforms, which transform the functions of the state to favor the rich over the poor rather than weaken the state altogether (Moody 1997). Heavily promoted by conservative think tanks, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank (WB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), neoliberalism has become hegemonic throughout much of the world.  Elites within the global north have readily carried out neoliberal reforms, restricting welfare programs, weakening labor and environmental regulations, liberalizing their trade and financial policies, and privatizing social services.  Within the global north, these developments have been the most extensive in countries such as the United States and Great Britain, where market regulations have always been fairly weak (Hicks 1999).  In the global south, the IMF and WB imposed neoliberal reforms (often in the form of structural adjustment programs) on national governments as conditions for receiving loans or repaying past debts.  Such policies have impoverished workers and made them more desperate to accept jobs on almost any terms by increasing unemployment and by making it more difficult for workers to organize, obtain social services, or cope with job displacement (Harris and Seid 2000). The spread of neoliberal policies thus exacerbates the competitive pressures on corporations to minimize labor costs and relocate jobs abroad.

This international “race to the bottom” can only be stopped by promoting labor rights in the national as well as the global economy, including fair labor standards, economic security programs, workers’ rights to organize, and rights to education and training. The “low wage road” to national competitiveness, reliant on minimizing labor costs as much as possible, is certainly not the only path to economic growth in the global economy; corporations could compete with their rivals through the “high-wage road” of using highly skilled labor to create new technologies, redesign the labor process, identify new markets, and invent and market new products (Reich 1991; Cormier and Craypo 2000; Moody 1997). However, the lure of the “low wage road” will remain strong without strong international pressure on all nations to better regulate their labor markets and respect workers’ rights. Curtailing the global “race to the bottom” depends greatly on the capacity of workers and their allies to mobilize and influence both national and international policies. A vibrant transnational labor movement promises to improve workplace conditions for workers employed by the same corporations, and it can serve as a deterrent to corporations that seek to utilize cheap labor in the global south rather than to provide workers in the global north with a living wage and a safe workplace. International labor solidarity is also necessary to promote workers’ rights in international trade and financial agreements (Aguirre and Reese 2004).

But workers and unions in the global south are wary of the “race to the bottom” discourse because they fear the labor unions in the north will use their political leverage to prevent job formation in the south, as they arguably have in the past. The discussion of global labor standards is the terrain where compromises between northern and southern workers and unions can be worked out. Global labor standards that price southern workers out are not acceptable. The long-run task is to raise the productivity of labor in the south, but in the short-run northern workers must be willing to take into account the needs that southern workers have for jobs. This is why north/south dialogues are so important, and it is imperitive that workers and unions directly confront these issues rather than just sweeping them under the table.

The labor movement also has much to gain by joining forces with other types of social movements, both domestically and internationally to promote more “labor-friendly” policies. Transnational feminist organizations have become increasingly active on labor issues, pushing for improvements in international labor regulations and their enforcement by national governments (Moghadam 2005). Labor unions have also found strong support among environmental organizations for many of their campaigns, including those against toxic working conditions and against free trade agreements (Dreiling 1998; Obach 2004). Within countries, the labor movement’s efforts to promote living wages and oppose the privatization of, and cutbacks in, public social services has been greatly served by their alliances with local community organizations. Many other social movements, such as the anti-war movement and the movement for immigrants’ rights, promise to benefit workers, and unions have participated actively within them (Clawson 2003; Reese, Giedraitis, and Vega 2005; Tait 2005). Deepening and expanding these kinds of ties to other movements is likely to increase the political influence of the labor movement at all levels of governance, which is why many labor activists are participating within the WSF.


Union Members in the WSF Process

The World Social Forum (WSF) is an arena for sharing experiences and for formulating new strategies for confronting global capitalism. It was originally sponsored by the Brazilian Worker’s Party and met in Porto Alegre, Brazil, although the WSF itself is formally separate from all existing political parties. The successful WSF meetings in Mumbai, India in 2004 and Nairobi, Kenya in 2007 demonstrated that the WSF could go beyond its origins in Brazil.

Of the 544 attendees at the 2005 World Social Forum who responded to our survey and answered the question about union membership 127 or 23% indicated that they were union members.  Nearly 16% of the 2005 WSF attendees said they were going to report back about their experience at the WSF to a union. Nearly 28% of survey participants reported that they strongly identify with the labor movement, and nearly 13% report that they are actively involved in the labor movement. While union members are significantly more likely to identify with, and be involved in, the labor movement than non-unionists, this relationship is not as tightly coupled as one might imagine. Among union members, slightly more than half (51%) strongly identify with the labor movement but only about one-third (34%) claim that they are actively involved in it. Among those actively involved in the labor movement, nearly half (47%) do not belong to a union.

Union members who participate in the World Social Forum are unlikely to be a typical sample unionists from all over the world. Participation in the WSF already reveals a propensity toward internationalism and “social movement unionism” and a degree of willingness to try to work with other movements that may be unusual in comparison with most labor activists and union members in the world.


UCR Project on Transnational Social Movements

Since 2004 the Transnational Social Movements Research Working Group at the University of California-Riverside has been studying the World Social Forum process in order to better understand the potentials for transnational social movements to engage in effect collective action in world politics. Professors Ellen Reese and Christopher Chase-Dunn of the Department of Sociology and the Institute for Research on World-Systems (IROWS) have led this effort with the help of ten graduate students and six undergraduates at UCR. One of the main activities has been to carry out surveys of the attendees at the 2005 World Social Forum meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil and the 2007 World Social Forum meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.[1]  Our six-page survey asks participants a number of questions about their social characteristics, their affiliation with different kinds of organizations and political movements, as well as their opinions about various political goals and their preferred strategies for achieving social justice.


Characteristics of Union Members at the WSF: Results from the 2005 WSF Survey


       Tables 1, 2, and 3 at the end of this article contains the detailed results of looking at the differences between those attendees at the WSF05  who claimed that they were affiliated with a union and those who were not. Here we describe some of these results, especially those in which we found statistically significant differences between unionists and non-unionists. [2] As mentioned above, 127 (23%) of our WSF05 respondents indicated that they were affiliated with a labor union, whereas 417 said that they were not.

Table 1 indicates that while both unionists and non-unionists are fairly privileged in terms of their social characteristics and educational backgrounds, unionists tend to be more privileged than non-unionists. Both unionists and non-unionists are fairly cosmopolitan, with the vast majority of both groups speaking 2 or more languages and having friends in other countries. Unionists were significantly older than non-unionists, and were somewhat whiter (43.1% vs. 36.8%) in their self-reports of racial identity. Significantly more unionists than non-unionists were also men (57.5%; 48.8%) .Significantly fewer unionists (37.8%) were students than non-unionists (52.4%).Partly because they tended to be older and no longer in school, significantly more unionists (62.1%) had 16 or more years of education than did non-unionists (47.6%), but unionists and non-unionists did not differ significantly in the subjects of their educational degrees (e.g. social science, natural sciences, arts/humanities, etc.). Unionists were somewhat different with regard to their reported primary occupations, with 49.1% listing themselves as Professionals, Technicians, or Artists, whereas only 40.6% of non-unionists identified their occupation within this category.[3]

In terms of where they came from, slightly more unionists reported coming from a core country[4] (25%) than non-unionists (19.2%), but this difference was not statistically significant. More unionists came from Asia (13.3%) than non-unionists (7.5%), but the differences in home region were not statistically significant.

       Regarding political activism, greater shares of unionists than non-unionists were more politically active as Table 2 shows. Nearly half, or 46.0%, of unionists reported having attended a previous World Social Forum, while only 34.4% of non-unionists did that. And 46.8% of the unionists claim to have attended five or more protests in the last year, whereas among non-unionists this figure was 31.1%. The percentage of unionists who said the would report back to at least one group regarding the World Social Forum was 87.1%, while only 77.8% of non-unionists made this claim. And unionists were involved with an average of 2.87 movements, whereas non-unionists were involved with 2.45.

       Regarding political views, a majority of both unionists and non-unionists favored radical changes in the global political economy, but greater shares of unionists than non-unionists expressed these goals (see Table 3). First, a significantly greater share of unionists said that they want to abolish capitalism and replace it (68.1% vs. 56.3%), whereas non-unionists were more likely to want to reform capitalism -- 43.7% vs. 29.4% for unionists.  Regarding the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, more non-unionists favored negotiating with them (13.9%) than did unionists (5.7%); a slightly greater share of unionists favored abolishing them (29.5%) than non-unionists (24.5%). Thus, in contrast to the common image of union members as reformist, union members participating in the WSF appear to be more radical, not less, than those not affiliated with unions. 

       In response to a question about best approaches for solving the problems created by global capitalism, unionists chose “strengthen nation states” less (4.9%) than non-unionists did (8.6%). The relationship between respondents’ preferred scale of action and union membership was only significant at the 0.10 level however. The most popular response to this question among both unionists and non-unionists was to empower local communities, with about one-quarter of respondents from both groups favoring the creation of global democratic institutions. Findings in this table contradict the notion that union members are more nationalistic than other activists attending the WSF. Similarly, unionists’ and non-unionists’ responses to the question “Do you think that it is a good or a bad idea to have a democratic world government” did not differ significantly. About a third said it was a good idea and is plausible, another third said it is a good idea but not plausible, and a third said it is a bad idea.

       Both groups are similar in their level of agreement with the statement that “Overall the world needs less economic growth.” And regarding the statement, “The World Social Forum should remain as an open space for debate and should not itself take public positions on political issues” 44.5% of the unionists agree, while 49% of the non-unionists agree. Thus, unionists’ political positions appear to be quite similar to those of non-unionists in terms of a number of important political debates within the global justice movement.


       Tables 4 and 5 shows the most common types of responses to two open-ended questions that we asked respondents regarding potential divisions among labor and environmental activists and among labor activists in the global north and south. The first question was How might actual or potential contradictions between the environmental movements and the labor movements be resolved?As Table 4 shows, the most common answers emphasized the importance of better communication between the two movements or greater coordination between them. For example, a participant from Brazil responded that “negotiation through multilateral organizations” would help to produce greater cooperation between these two movements. Another popular response emphasized sustainable development. For example, a Canadian participant responded that this contradication would be resolved through a “focus on sustainable development. [This] will increase environmental sensitivity of labor while maintaining employment.”

Despite a history in many countries of poor relations between the labor and environmental movements, we found that unionists are just as connected with environmentalism as non-unionists are. About 27% of unionists and 26% of non-unionists claim that they are actively involved in the environmental movement, while 54% of unionists and 46% of non-unionists strongly identify with it, and these differences are not statistically significant.

The second question asked, “How might actual or potential contradictions between the labor movements in the developed countries and the labor movements of the less developed countries be resolved?”The two most common answers also emphasized the importance of improving communication and coordination between the two groups (see Table 5). For example, a participant from Australia responded that contradictions between labor activists from the global north and south could be resolved through “more grassroots dialogue between them and exchange programs.” Likewise, a participant from China called for “better and more sincere dialogue,” among workers around the globe and for them to “work together.” A participant from India also emphasized the importance of “dialogue,” but added that there needed to be “more support of the weaker and less developed by the stronger and more prosperous.” Other common responses emphasized the importance of education and consciousness raising. For example, a Swedish participant claimed that, “You have to make sure that the labor movements from different countries talk to each other, and learn that their problems are really the same, so you can solve your problems by handing them over to another.”  Another popular response to this question pointed to cross-border organizing and international solidarity as the key to better relations between workers in more and less developed countries. For example, a Brazilian respondent suggested that contradictions between northern and southern labor activists would best be resolved by organizing coordinated strikes of employees of the same multi-national corporations, or even holding a “world strike” or “world demonstration.”




      Unionists and the labor movement form a significant segment of the activists involved in the Social Forum process. At Porto Alegre in 2005 over one fifth of the attendees we surveyed said they are affiliated with a union, nearly 28% said they strongly identify with the labor movement and nearly 13% said they are actively involved in the labor movement. Whereas the labor movement can no longer claim to be the sole protagonist of human emancipation, it is playing an important role in the contemporary challenge to global capitalism. Labor activists’ participation in the WSF is likely to help build political alliances across movements and nations. It may also help to revive participation within the labor movement of union members themselves. The fact that two-thirds of our sample of union members attending the 2005 WSF meeting did not identify as “active participants” within the labor movement suggests that there is important mobilizing work to be done, even among trade unionists involved in the Social Forum process.

Debates surrounding unions’ participation in the Social Forum process conjure up contradictory images of organized labor. Some imagine union members at the WSF as part of a radical vanguard promoting a fundamental restructuring of the global economy. Others portray them as representing the “aristocracy of labor,” or lump them together with members of other “vertical” organizations that are presumed to be less radical than other grassroots social activists. Our findings provide support for these first two of images of organized labor, but contradict those who portray union members as moderate reformists. Our findings suggest that most union members attending the WSF do represent an “aristocracy of labor” in many respects, but nevertheless are more radical in their political goals than other WSF participants.

       We also found that WSF unionists tend to be relatively privileged workers. They are older, more likely to be men, and whiter (but also more Asian) than WSF non-unionists. WSF unionists are also more educated and a greater share of them are skilled workers, especially “Professionals, Technicians, or Artists” than WSF non-unionists. Thus, the most oppressed workers, those from the periphery, younger workers, women, and racial minorities are not fully represented among unionists at the WSF; this will limit the kinds of international labor alliances that can be formed at the WSF. Social differences between unionists and other WSF participants may also create potential challenges for building stronger alliances between organized labor and other social movements.

We found that WSF unionists are more politically active and radical than non-unionists. Nearly half of unionists attended five or more protests in the past year. Most unionists at the WSF appear to be synergists with ties to multiple social movements. On average, union members attending the WSF are involved in almost three movements, compared to 2.5 for non-unionists. A greater share of unionists than non-unionists want to abolish capitalism and existing international economic organizations. Despite a long history of supporting national protections for workers, union members attending the WSF appear to be less nationalistic than other WSF participants. We found that fewer unionists than non-unionists in our sample want to strengthen nation states as an approach to solving the problems created by global capitalism, and more unionists than non-unionists favor the idea of a global democratic government.

More WSF non-unionists than unionists favored keeping the WSF an open space. But in both cases it was nearly half, so those who want the WSF itself to become a global political organization that takes stands greatly risk driving away nearly half of the activists who favor keeping the WSF an open space. But this does not mean that a global united front of the kind proposed in the Bamako Appeal (2006) cannot emerge from the Social Forum process. Indeed the WSF Charter encourages those who want to organize new political projects to do so. Peter Waterman (2006) has proposed a global labor charter, which gained considerable support among labor activists during the 2007 WSF meeting. This is part of a ferment of manifestos and charters have been put forth since 2005 as the Social Forum process moves from defense to offense (Wallerstein 2007).


Table 1: Cross tabulation tables comparing social characteristics of union members with non-members from 2005 WSF Survey

Note: All percentages below refer to valid percentages. The tables marked with an asterisk are those in which the Chi Square value is statistically significant (*=0.10 level; **=0.05 level; ***=0.01 level).



Union Members





Chi Square

Sample size








Survey Language




















Friends in other countries












Languages spoken




One language




Two languages




Three languages




Four or more languages
































Years of education








Under 11




11 to 15




16 or more




Unclear or no answer  








Educational Degree Subject




% Social Sciences




% Natural Sciences




% Arts/Humanities




% Technology










Union Members










under 18
























over 65




















































Primary Occupation




















Skilled Worker, Blue Collar




White Collar Workers












NGO worker (any capacity)








World-System Position (country of residence)














Region of residence




South America




Western Europe




North America












Central America/Carribbean












Table 2: Cross tabulation tables comparing political activities of union members with non-members from 2005 WSF Survey

Note: All percentages below refer to valid percentages. The tables marked with an asterisk are those in which the Chi Square value is statistically significant (*=0.10 level; **=0.05 level; ***=0.01 level).

Union Members                 Chi Square


No                 Yes

Number of protests last year                                                      11.507***

No protests                                 12.5%            6.5%                           

one protest                                  19.3%            15.3%           

2-4 protests                                37.1%            31.5%   

5 or more protests                31.1%            46.8%   


Attending a prior WSF             34.4%            46.0%                   5.577


Funding for WSF trip

Personal funds                             47.5%            59.3%                   5.264** 

Work                                          15.0%            22.0%                   3.350*   

Educational institution           8.1%              12.2%                   1.939

Political organization                    10.8%            13.0%                   .466

Family                                         14.7%            6.5%                     5.731*

Friends                                        6.1%              5.7%                     .032

Business organization                   1.0%              0.8%                     .028

Other                                          16.2%            17.1%                   .055


Reasons for attending                                                         

Organize                              26.0%            31.5%                   1.494

Network                                     42.7%            45.7%                     .344

Learn about the issues          73.8%            78.7%                   1.269

Research                             38.1%            33.9%                     .751

Work                                          26.8%            28.3%                     .123

Other                                          19.2%            15.7%                     .780


Reporting back to about WSF

% NGOs                                    45.3%            35.5%                   3.058*

% unions                              4.4%              52.3%               127.310***             

% parties                                    13.5%            19.6%                   2.286  

% SMOs                                    48.0%            42.1%                   1.106

%Government Agency                 5.4%              5.6%                       .006

% Other                                      32.8%            30.8%                     .134            

% at least one group                   77.8%            87.1%                   5.125**


Mean # of movements

actively involved in:          2.45                      2.87


Table 3: Cross tabulation tables comparing political views of union members with non-members from 2005 WSF Survey

Note: All percentages below refer to valid percentages. The tables marked with an asterisk are those in which the Chi Square value is statistically significant (*=0.10 level; **=0.05 level; ***=0.01 level).

Union Members

No          Yes                                     Chi Square


(1)   Do you think we need to reform capitalism or

abolish it? Check one.                                                                        16.643***

Reform it                                     43.7%            29.4%

Abolish it and replace                         56.3%            68.1%

Chose both answers                            0.0%              2.5%

(2) In the long run, what do you think should be done

about the existing international financial and trade

institutions such as the IMF and the WTO? Check one.            8.566**      

Negotiate with them                            13.9%            5.7%

Abolish them                                      24.5%            29.5%

Abolish and replace                            58.9%            59.0%

Chose more than 1 answer                  2.7%              5.7%    

(3) Which of the following approaches would best solve

the problems created by global capitalism? Check one.                    6.371*

Strengthen local communities               53.4%            48.4%

Strengthen nation states               8.6%              4.9%

Create democratic global inst.             25.6%            26.2%

Choose more than one answer            12.4%            20.5%                  

(4) Do you think it is a good or bad idea to have a

democratic world government? Check one.                                   .608

Good idea, and it’s plausible        29.2%            31.3%  

Good idea, but not plausible        37.6%           39.1%

Bad idea                                            32.5%            28.7% 

Chose more than one answer              0.8%              0.9%                                     

 (5) "Overall the world needs less economic growth."                       1.245

Agree                                                58.7%            60.7%

Disagree                                             41.3%            39.3%               

(6) "The World Social Forum should remain as an

open space for debate and should not itself take public

positions on political issues."                                                               7.009

Agree                                                 49.0%            44.5%

Disagree                                                    51.0%            55.5%


Table 4

Responses to “How might actual or potential contradictions between the environmental movements and the labor movements be resolved?”

2005 WSF Data



Number of Responses



Common goals/Common sense




(Debate or consensus)




(Negotiation, Mediation, etc.)






Not a Problem/Contradiction






Recognizing Privilege



Sustainable Development




Worker Involvement/Public Ownership



Do Not Know/Unsure



Multiple Answers*







Other responses included: mutual respect, democracy, and enforcing or creating laws.


Table 5

Responses to “How might actual or potential contradictions between the labor movements in the developed countries and the labor movements of the less developed countries be resolved?”

2005 WSF Data



Number of Responses



Abolish/Replace Capitalism



Change/Distrust Unions



Common Goals/Common Sense












Different Concerns/Problems






Exchange of Ideas/Experiences



Fair Wages/Labor Practices



From Below/by the South






Promoting Respect/Understanding



Reducing/Addressing Inequality



Sustainable Development



Do Not Know/Unsure



Multiple Answers*







Other answers included making the income distribution more equal and overcoming protectionism.



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[1] Our research project surveys and working papers are available at http://www.irows.ucr.edu/research/tsmstudy.htm

[2] We report statistical significance levels that are based on the assumption of random sampling even though our sample is not perfectly random. These are to be used for comparisons within the tables and within our non-random sample.

[3] Occupations were based on an open-ended question that was later recoded into broad occupational categories.

[4] Core countries are the 20 or so richest and most developed countries of the world. Our study of the World Social Forum that looks at global “North/South” differences among attendees found that it was helpful to use the world-system categories of core, semiperiphery and periphery (Chase-Dunn, Reese, Herkenrath, Giem, Guttierrez, Kim, and Petit 2008).