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Resistance exercise: competition, coopetition and collective action among self-employed personal trainers in the UK

Geraint Harvey Orcid Logo, Jia Li Orcid Logo, Daniel Wintersberger

Employee Relations: The International Journal, Volume: 45, Issue: 6, Pages: 1511 - 1526

Swansea University Author: Jia Li Orcid Logo

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Abstract

The paper explores the potential for resistance to exploitation by gyms among self-employed personal trainers (SEPTs) in the UK, with a focus on the attitudes of SEPTs towards trade unions and collective action.This paper is based on a multiple method study with qualitative data drawn from participa...

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Published in: Employee Relations: The International Journal
ISSN: 0142-5455
Published: Emerald 2023
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa64555
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Abstract: The paper explores the potential for resistance to exploitation by gyms among self-employed personal trainers (SEPTs) in the UK, with a focus on the attitudes of SEPTs towards trade unions and collective action.This paper is based on a multiple method study with qualitative data drawn from participant observation and interviews, and quantitative data from a questionnaire survey. The data were collected in 2018.The potential for individual resistance to exploitation among self-employed personal trainers is limited. However, attitudes towards a collective response was largely positive, albeit there is certainly no consensus agreement on the value of trade unions. The logic of coopetition is applied to explain the issues on which trade unions might organize SEPTs.The study suggests coopetition as an organizing logic for highly individualized self-employed workers in intense proximal competition with one another. However, the research presented in this paper was undertaken with a unique group of solo self-employed. Further study is required to demonstrate the applicability of these findings.The commercialization of work poses a threat to traditional employment and trade unions. It is crucial that trade unions represent the interests of all workers by focusing on workers who do not traditionally form the vanguard of its membership (e.g., dependent workers and the falsely self-employed). The study illustrates the way in which trade unions can organize micro-entrepreneurs.Coopetitive representation whereby micro-entrepreneurs collaborate to resist exploitation while remaining independent has the potential to change the perspectives and values of entrepreneurs. Having experienced coopetitive representation, these micro-entrepreneurs may be less likely to perpetuate injustice and exploitation as a consequence.The paper assesses the potential of organizing a highly individualized and competitive self-employed worker. Coopetitive representation is presented as distinct from other approaches to representation and as a means of trade union revitalization.
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Issue: 6
Start Page: 1511
End Page: 1526