December 15, 2017
Professor Karreth published a paper in the journal Democratization on the relationship between trade union membership and political participation in Africaâ€™s emerging democracies.
Professor Karreth published a paper in the journal Democratization on the relationship between trade union membership and political participation in Africaâ€™s emerging democracies. Trade unions in Africa have become increasingly vocal in calling attention to the widening socio-economic inequalities that have accompanied global market integration across the continent. But labor movements have also contributed to processes of democratization in Africa by acting as instruments of political socialization for their members. Using survey data from 18 African countries, Karrethâ€™s paper finds that membership in a labor organization increases oneâ€™s propensity to participate in a range of political activities. Specifically, it finds labor movements encourage participation by forging â€śparticipatory spillover effectsâ€ť, which mobilize unionists across different arenas of the political landscape. Finally, the paper finds that the effect of union membership on political participation is stronger in countries where unions maintain independence from ruling parties. Her research contributes to literature on political participation across Africa and furthers our understanding of the role of labor movementsâ€”and civil society more broadlyâ€”in the bottom-up processes of democratization on the continent. The paper was picked up by the National Endowment for Democracyâ€™s blog, Democracy Digest.