Labor Transnationalism and Global Governance: The Impact of NAFTA on Transnational Labor Relationships in North America

Date Published:

Oct 1, 2005


This article examines how the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) catalyzed cross-border labor cooperation and col- laboration (i.e., labor transnationalism), by creating a new political opportunity structure at the transnational level. Because there are differences in the way power is constituted at the transnational and national levels, theories of national political opportunity structures cannot be directly mapped onto the transnational level. The author describes three primary dimensions of political opportunity structure at the transnational level that explain how power is established: (1) the constitution of transnational actors and interests, (2) the definition and recognition of transnational rights, and (3) adjudication at the transnational level. The case of NAFTA suggests that while the emergence of national social movements requires nation-states, global governance institutions can play a pivotal role in the development of transnational social movements.


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