Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter analyses organised labour’s varying responses to autocratisation in the three countries in the region where the labour movement was in a comparatively strong position to resist it: Cambodia, Indonesia, and Myanmar. In Cambodia and Indonesia, organised labour did not push back strongly against autocratisation, but Myanmar’s comparatively young and small labour movement did. The chapter finds that existing theories of civil society resistance to autocratisation cannot explain these varied responses and argues that the pace of autocratisation - incremental versus sudden - is an important overlooked dimension that shapes how organised labour responds to autocratisation. The pace of autocratisation affects both threat perceptions and the ability of autocratisers to preemptively disorganise opponents. Organised labour is more likely to mobilise against autocratisation when union leaders realise that autocratisation is underway, perceive it to be a threat, and unions have not been preemptively weakened. Only Myanmar, where autocratisation happened rapidly, meets these three conditions. In Indonesia, the creeping pace of autocratisation dulled labour’s perception of threat, whereas in Cambodia, the government deftly and sequentially disorganised civil society. Consequently, neither labour movement mounted significant resistance to autocratisation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Civil and Uncivil Society in Southeast Asia
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781000840995
ISBN (Print)9780367422011
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 selection and editorial matter, Eva Hansson and Meredith L. Weiss; individual chapters, the contributors.


Dive into the research topics of 'ORGANISED LABOUR AND AUTOCRATISATION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this