Pegasus Professor Weighs in on General Strikes

Research findings of Pegasus Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science, Kerstin Hamann, Ph.D., were recently published in a posting on the Monkey Cage, the political blog of The Washington Post.

The posting, published on Feb. 8, discusses the Women’s March organizers’ push for a general strike against President Trump. Hamann and her co-authors cite findings based on their research on general strikes in Western Europe, where general strikes have occurred with increasing frequency, to provide some context for such an event in the United States. Over one-third of general strikes in Western Europe have been successful, resulting in governments’ modification or reversal of their proposed policy reforms, especially when governments planned to cut pensions or social insurance.

Additionally, governments that experience general strikes also suffer from vote loss in the next election, especially when such a strike occurs close to an election.

Hamann conducted the research in collaboration with Alison Johnston, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science at Oregon State University, and John E. Kelly, Ph.D., professor of employment relations in the Department of Management at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Although organized labor is weaker in the United States than in many Western European countries and the political institutions here differ from those that Hamann and her colleagues have studied, this research can provide some suggestions on the potential effect of a general strike here in the United States.

“General strikes are also sometimes called political strikes, and these types of strikes are outlawed here in the United States, but I hope that our research can nonetheless help to put the discussion of a potential general strike into some context,” said Hamann.

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