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The process of working class formation in Algeria.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 08:58 authored by Layachi. Anser
The main question raised in this study is that of whether under conditions of colonial domination, underdevelopment and integration into the world capitalist system there was a possibility for the emergence of a working class in Algeria. This study has shown that the conditions for the emergence and development of a working class existed in Algeria since the colonial period. In this early period the processes of pauperization and proletarianization of large sections of the population through land expropriation and destruction of crafts and local communities have led to the formation of the first groups of wage labour on colonial farms and enterprises. However, the process of working class formation was hindered by the uneven development of colonial capitalism, political repression, racial discrimination as well as internal cleavages based on ethnicity and religion. The post-independence period provided new possibilities for the process of working class formation yet it has, at the same time, revealed its limitations. These were related to the weakness of the working class and the hostile political and economic environment. The experience of Self-management and the struggles which developed around it highlighted the extent to which specific historical conditions have affected working class formation. However, a new impetus to this process was provided by the rapid and intensive process of industrialization. The working class-in-formation not only saw its size expanding may times over in a short period of time (1966-82), becoming one of the main social groupings in the Algerian social structure, but has also acquired a rich and varied experience through its struggles. Despite many unfavourable conditions such as, recency of industrialization, disorganization, subordination of unions, and continued influence of traditional structures the Algerian industrial workers have developed embryonic forms of class consciousness expressing their common identity and shared interests. They have also shown an awareness of societal division and cleavages based on an unequal access to resources, generating antagonisms and conflicts. Most importantly, a majority among workers developed positive orientations toward collective forms of resistance and were prepared given the "right" conditions to engage in forms of collective action. Although expressed views on radical forms of resistance such as strikes, were not too favourable, these must be understood in the historical and situational context of the time. Overall, Algerian workers despite differences relating to the environment, working conditions and management policies, have shown a great deal of cohesion and homogeneity. New conditions have emerged recently following the collapse of the one-party state, an achievement for which part of the credit, at least, must go to the Algerian workers. These emergent conditions offer the working class new possibilities for an autonomous development leading to the realization of its potentialities as a major force in the Algerian social structure.


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Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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