Fagforeningen i det senmoderne: En analyse af 3F’s og HK’s selvfremstilling

Jens Bundgaard Nielsen & Benjamin Boesen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Trade Unions have played a central role in shaping the Danish labour market as we know it today and the majority of the Danish workforce has traditionally been organized in trade unions. However, today the traditional Danish trade-union movement is facing a crisis. First and foremost they are experiencing unprecedented competition from interdisciplinary unions, more specialized legislation and a sharp decline in membership numbers. The dissertation focuses on the crisis of the Danish trade unions and takes its offset in the thesis that structures in Danish society have changed and can today be described as postmodern, which has led to change in society’s expectations of trade unions. The dissertation consists of three analyses and the first addresses the question of what characterises today’s society in general and the labour market in particular. The analysis is empirically based on the works of Anthony Giddens, Zygmunt Bauman and Richard Sennett and shows that society has changed since the heyday of trade unions and that today’s individuals do not follow traditions and that choices are made with an increased reflexivity. In the second analysis we focus on two specific trade unions, 3F and HK, which have both witnessed a decline in membership and have both recently launched extensive commercial campaigns stressing the, in their view, important work of trade unions. The analysis is empirically based on the two campaigns and asks with what strategies do they seek to establish themselves as trade unions in the postmodern society? The analysis is theoretically based on Niklas Luhmann’s system theory and consists of three components: an organisational analysis, an analysis of the use of polyphony in the two organisations and lastly an analysis of the campaigns, which show that 3F and HK have two different self-descriptions which results in two different semantic bids for the postmodern trade union and HK in particular turns its back on the traditional semantics of the trade unions and creates a new self-description. Lastly we ask what the consequences of the two semantic bids are for the members of 3F and HK and what reactions they cause. Theoretically this part is based on the work of Michel Foucault and his theories on power and concludes that the two different semantic bids offer two different forms of subjectivity which the members can choose. Furthermore, the analysis shows that especially the members of HK react strongly to their campaign.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages112