The changing nature of labour protest: Comparing the fragmentation of protest rituals on May 1st in Berlin and Budapest

  • Ilse Helbrecht Department of Geography, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany
  • Éva Izsák Department of Regional Science, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary
  • Peter Dirksmeier Department of Geography, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany
  • Márton Berki Department of Social and Economic Geography, Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest, Hungary
  • Sebastian Schlueter Department of Geography, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany


The transition from industrial to post-industrial society has changed the conditions for labour protest in Europe fundamentally. In this paper recent forms of labour protest are explored in two European capital cities, Berlin and Budapest. In the context of growing job insecurity, flexibilisation and fragmentation of labour markets, the motivations and class positions of protest participants are scrutinised, along with the diversified geographies of protest events. Building on empirical results by means of a survey based on structured mini-interviews, the paper argues, first, that a fragmentation of labour protests on May 1st is observable. This fragmentation is driven by an overall change of Labour Day celebrations from trade union oriented demonstrations towards segmented party zones of protest in both cities. Second, neither traditional forms of labour protest is nor newly created, more festive forms of labour celebrations attract a significant proportion of people suffering from precarity or unemployment. Thus, most marginalised people in the service-dominated economy do not have a voice in labour protests today.


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How to Cite
HelbrechtI., Izsák Éva, DirksmeierP., BerkiM., & SchlueterS. (2017). The changing nature of labour protest: Comparing the fragmentation of protest rituals on May 1st in Berlin and Budapest. Hungarian Geographical Bulletin, 66(2), 95-111.