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Why might a video game developer join a union?
Labor Studies Journal
  • Johanna Weststar, Western University
  • Marie-Josee Legault, Teluq-UQAM
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This paper contributes to the union renewal literature by examining the union voting propensity of workers in the high-tech tertiary sector of videogame development toward different forms of unionization. We used exclusive data from a survey of videogame developers (VGD) working primarily in Anglo-Saxon countries. When looking at the factors related to voting propensity, our data indicated that the type of unionism matters and that industry/sectoral unionism is an increasingly salient model for project-based knowledge workers. This is an important policy dimension given that the legal structures and norms in Anglo-Saxon countries still tend to support decentralized enterprise-based unionism. It is also important for unions insofar as their organizing tactics remain geared toward a shop-by-shop approach or, at least, a localized geographical approach. Although additional work is required, our analyses lends support to the argument that high-commitment and high-involvement workplaces can engender a desire for collective representation and voice such as is offered through unionization. Whether this is because such workplaces step over a breaking-point line where the requirement for full alignment with employer goals becomes untenable and a source of discontent, whether this represents the existence of dual commitment where a representative agent like a union is seen as necessary to protect the work that people love, or whether there is a combination of these forces is not yet clear, but it is a critical area of future study for project-based knowledge workers.


This is an author-accepted manuscript. The article was initially published by Sage Journals in Labor Studies Journal, 2017 and can be found online at:

Citation Information
Johanna Weststar and Marie-Josee Legault. "Why might a video game developer join a union?" Labor Studies Journal Vol. 42 Iss. 4 (2017) p. 295 - 321
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