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Theorizing Wisconsin's 2011 protests: Community-based unionism confronts accumulation by dispossession



Recent waves of social-movement protest in Wisconsin challenge conventional understandings of labor activism, as they have responded not only to rollbacks of labor rights but also to privatization of state programs and resources and budget cuts that target poor and working families. Drawing from participant-observation, I explore the question of whether the movements that arose in Wisconsin in early 2011 represented an expansion of union-based activism struggling within the “expanded reproduction” of capital or a broader struggle against what New Enclosures Movement scholars have conceptualized as capital's ongoing primitive accumulation strategies. I examine the implications of the answer to this question for community-based labor movements in Wisconsin and beyond. [community-based unionism, labor, accumulation by dispossession, social movements, social protest]