YOUTH UNIONISATION IN DECLINE Increasing negative attitudes towards the union or a growing involuntary structural individualism?
Abstract: Sweden has in the past years experienced union coverage declines, particularly amongst young individuals aged 16-24. Previous studies indicates conflicting results regarding the relationship between the youth’s attitudes towards the union and their unionisation outcome. The possibility of a growing involuntary structural individualism amongst the Swedish youth, as a cause of a weakening workplace attachment and a decreasing exposure to union representatives and colleagues, needs to be further explored. Based on the Swedish youth aged 16-24, this thesis explores the effect of the youth’s attitudes towards unions on the outcome of unionisation over time, and how unionised and non-unionised young individuals’ perceived level of workplace attachment, and exposure to union representatives and colleagues, affects their unionisation outcome. Research questions are addressed via mixed-method nested analysis approach, with the application of logistic regression analysis, and focus group interviews with 16 unionised and non-unionised young Swedish individuals. Quantitative results establishes that odds ratios of unionisation when displaying positive attitudes towards unions has declined from 1988 through 2017. During 1988-1993, odds ratio of such an outcome was 2.172, whereas during 2012-2017, odds ratio was 1.689, indicating that the effect of positive attitudes towards the union on unionisation outcome has weakened over time. Qualitative results indicates circumstantial evidence of prevalence of involuntary structural individualism amongst non- unionised participants, compared to unionised participants. Increased involuntary structural individualism, due to weaker workplace attachment and lacking exposure to union representatives and colleagues, could possibly be an explanation to disproportionate union coverage declines amongst the Swedish youth aged 16-24.
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