Labour-process-related Racism in Transnational European Production: Fragmenting Work meets Xenophobic Culturalisation among Workers

  • Stefanie Hürtgen University of Salzburg


This article discusses labour-process-related racism and xenophobia among workers. It uses empirical findings from different projects to argue that, to a large extent, actual racism and xenophobia refer to experiences of objectification/reification, namely by harsh social competition in contemporary fragmented and transnationalised production. Racism and xenophobia are discussed as specific forms of subjectification which reproduce and stabilise these competitive social relations among workers, within and beyond countries. Racism thus is part of a “restrictive agency” developed by workers – that is, their orientation towards the subordination under objectifying, seemingly non-changeable structures. As a consequence, the article concludes, the repressive structures have to be questioned, and for this purpose the intense debate on racism and right-wing populism among workers is one-sided; there must be more attention paid to progressive labour-process-related, universalistic orientations that exist, despite already long-lasting neo-liberalism.

KEY WORDS: racism; Labour Process Theory; transnational production networks; fragmentation; Europeanisation; Critical Psychology