Accueil > English Supplement > Volume 48, Supplement 1 > SUD-PTT unionists : moral entrepreneurs ? - J.-M. Denis

SUD-PTT unionists : moral entrepreneurs ? - J.-M. Denis

Jean-Michel Denis
GIP-MIS (Mutations des Industries et des Services) and Université de Marne-la-Vallée, 29, promenade Michel Simon, 93166 Noisy-le Grand Cedex, France

Available online 26 July 2006 on ScienceDirect

Since its founding in 1988, the SUD-PTT union [Solidarité, Unité, Démocratie at the Poste, Télégraphe et Téléphone] has made using the courts a frequent mode of action in its dealings with the two French public-sector companies in which it is present, La Poste and France Télécom. Legal action is now fully part of SUD-PTT practices. This is surprising for a union so strongly attached to the protest tradition and hostile in both practice and discourse to any form of institutionalization. After considering possible explanations for SUD-PTT’s heavy use of legal institutions, the article looks at how the type of conflict it engages in, which may be called “conflit de règles” [conflict about and by means of rules] can be linked to a major trend in contemporary social conflictuality : the fact that the “antagonistic posture” is no longer limited to collective action but is now operative in a more institutionalized approach. The thesis is that this sort of action is not just technical or instrumental but aims to exert pressure on norms, and thereby on the codification of social relations and ways of “living together”.

Keywords : Conflict about and by means of rules ; Legal action ; Public services ; “Moral entrepreneurs” ; Crusade ; unionism ; France

Article Outline

  • 1. What first made SUD-PTT move to use the courts ?
    • 1.1. “A question of survival”
    • 1.2. Consequences of SUD-PTT’s successful struggle for representativity recognition
    • 1.3. Multiple reasons for working the legal side
  • 2. Moral entrepreneurs
    • 2.1. Moral activists or entrepreneurs ?
    • 2.2. A crusade to defend public services
    • 2.3. Legal action and conflit de règles
  • Annex A. Growth of SUD-PTT
  • Bibliography
  • Trade-unions documents

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 48, Supplement 1, August 2006, Pages e39–e55
Translation by Amy Jacobs