Scholarship on worker collective action has followed activists' turn from labor process to labor movement, privileging external opportunities for protest and resources for organizing. Persuaded by growing appeals to examine the impact of capitalism on protest, I “bring the factory back in” to analyze how the recent restructuring of a Bronx factory's labor process shaped employees' capacities for sustained collective action. Employing participant observation and in-depth interviews within an extended-case framework, I trace the impact of worksite reorganization on shop-floor “games.” I argue that workers sustained a surprisingly long strike after a management offensive dissolved consent and unexpectedly generated a horizontal class realignment. Combining opposing labor-process perspectives, my account is predicated on the how the impact of deskilling interacts with worker behaviors patterned on preexisting hegemonic factory institutions. Though similar cases of hegemonic breakdown will not result in a resurgence of protest across American worksites, my research supports calls for a resurgence of scholarship on production as one central factor shaping collective worker behaviors.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.