Ecotopians in hardhats : the Australian green bans movement
Burgmann, Verity and Milner, Andrew. (2011) Ecotopians in hardhats : the Australian green bans movement. Utopian Studies, Vol.22 (No.1). pp. 125-142. ISSN 1045-991XFull text not available from this repository.
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/utp.2011.0019
According to Lyman Tower Sargent, utopias are repositories for individual and collective hopes and fears, which sometimes unleash energies that can achieve at least part of what is hoped for. The Australian green bans movement of 1971-75 can be understood as a utopian project in this sense. During this period, the construction workers organized in the New South Wales branch of a labor union, known as the Builders Labourers' Federation, refused to work on ecologically or socially harmful projects and publicly argued for their collective right to socially responsible labor. Coining the term "green bans" to describe environmentally motivated withdrawals of labor, they halted projects worth five billion Australian dollars at 1970s prices. When enthusiastic resident action groups mobilized in support of these bans, the union grew into the core of a more general social movement. The success of the green bans movement sugg ests that the power of subversive imagining can be especially effective if coupled with the power of workers at the point of production. The movement's basic premise—that workers, acting in the general public interest, should decide what can be built and where—represented a direct challenge to the dominant power relations. Ultimately, such impossible demands could not be conceded either by the employers or by the state. But the practical effects of this utopianism nonetheless secured substantial environmental improvements, which brought the green bans activists significantly closer to their dreams.
|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Subjects:||D History General and Old World > DU Oceania (South Seas)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions (Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Area, etc.)
|Divisions:||Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology|
|Journal or Publication Title:||Utopian Studies|
|Publisher:||Pennsylvania State University Press|
|Number of Pages:||18|
|Page Range:||pp. 125-142|
|Access rights to Published version:||Restricted or Subscription Access|
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