Many union leaders and observers of unionism in industrially advanced countries have recently argued for stronger links between unions and social movements but their arguments leave the nature of social movements underspecified. This article reviews the literature on social movements and argues in favour of a minimalist theory of the social actor rather than choose between American and European approaches to studying social movements. Both Melucci's European approach and McAdam, Tarrow, and Tilly's American approach to integrating the European and American schools of thought on social movements are inadequate to the task of specifying social-movement unionism. Hindess's minimalist theory of the social actor and articulated arenas of conflict offers a stronger approach to understanding social-movement unionism and appreciating its strategic pertinence in particular times and places. Two episodes of contention in Sweden illustrate the advantages of a minimalist theory of articulated social-movement unionism.
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