In an refreshingly self-reflective keynote one of its main doyens, Paul Thompson (Stirling), introduced some of the fundamental tenets of this approach: the labour process itself is a site of conflict; labour agency is not only articulated through labour movements but also on "lower" levels; and "labour" and "capital" should be seen more as "local" than universal categories. Thompson also developed a pungent critique of recent fashions to declare the "end of labour" (through digitization and other new technologies) and the advent of a post-work world: labour processes, Thompson insisted, will continue to exist and remain contested. As a future conceptual framework he proposed a three-levelled analysis of labour, encompassing wider "accumulation regimes", national or regional "regulatory regimes", and "control regimes" in the domain of production itself. On this level, everyday resistance more often than not takes the form of recalcitrance. Also, as recent support by industrial workers for right-wing populists in elections illustrate, there are no automatic links between the conflicts within the labour process and the sphere of institutional politics.
How important it is to connect a thorough analysis of what happens in the labour process itself with overarching, often transnational production chains or networked enterprises was illustrated by several of the subsequent presenters, exploring such different arenas as "delocalized" digital labour, the Argentinian automobile industry, the Indian manufacturing sector, care work in Central Europe, or the highly exploitative and repressive hardware manufacturing giants in China (Jörg Flecker, Vienna; Stefan Schmalz, Natalia Berti, and Johanna Sittel, Jena and Bogotá; Praveen Jha, Delhi; Christa Wichterich, Bonn; Pun Ngai, Hong Kong). Meanwhile, the ways resistance emerges, sometimes only in the "niches" of the labour process, was explored for such different sectors and locations as the construction sectors in India (Jonathan Pattenden, Norwich), the Russian automobile industry (Elena Shulzhenko, Copenhagen), or care work in Germany (Brigitte Aulenbacher and Fabienne Décieux, Linz).