Kay

Tamara Kay

Associate Professor of Global Affairs and Sociology, University of Notre Dame
Areas of Expertise:
  • International Development
  • U.S. Foreign Policy
  • Environment
  • Economic Growth & Innovation
  • Jobs & Workers
  • Labor

Connect with Tamara

About Tamara

Kay’s research examines the political and legal implications of regional economic integration, transnationalism, and global governance. She is interested in understanding how civil society organizations – particularly labor and environmental movements, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofits – respond and adapt to processes of regional economic integration and globalization. Kay has advised the International Labour Organization Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, the United Farmworkers of America, and has testified before the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Governor's Advisory Council on Refugees and Immigrants.

Podcast

Publications

"How Environmentalists 'Greened' Trade Policy: Strategic Action and the Architecture of Field Overlap" (with Rhonda Evans). American Sociological Review 73, no. 6 (2008): 970-991.

Examines why and how environmental activists, despite considerable political weakness and disproportionally few resources, won substantive negotiating concessions that far outstripped labor achievements during NAFTA's negotiation. Outlines the mechanisms associated with the structure of field overlap—alliance brokerage, rulemaking, resource brokerage, and frame adaptation-that enable activists to strategically leverage advantages across fields to transform the political landscape.

"Building Solidarity with Subjects and Audience in Sociology and Documentary Photography" Sociological Forum 26, no. 2 (2011): 424-430.

Contributes to a panel discussion addressing the sociological relevance of Sebastião Salgado’s work as well as documentary photography in general.

"New Challenges, New Alliances: Union Politicization in a Post-NAFTA Era" Labor History 56, no. 3 (2015): 246-269.

Argues that unions are dealing with the crises presented by neoliberal economic integration by entering new political coalitions and nontraditional advocacy areas – particularly relating to immigration, environment, and trade – in an effort to increase their relevance, influence, and allies. Examines how the North American Free Trade Agreement helped politicize unions to move beyond traditional workplace-centered struggles and engage in broader and more diverse political struggles linked at the domestic and the transnational level.

"Toward a Multidimensional Understanding of Culture for Health Interventions" (with Asad L. Asad ). Social Science & Medicine 144 (2015): 79–87.

Examines scholars and practitioners' understandings of culture in relation to health interventions. Provides a descriptive and analytical starting point for scholars interested in understanding the theoretical and empirical relevance of culture for health interventions, and sets forth concrete recommendations for practitioners working to achieve robust improvements in health outcomes.

"Legal Transnationalism: The Relationship between Transnational Social Movement Building and International Law" Law & Social Inquiry 36, no. 2 (2011): 419-454.

Examines the compelling enigma of how the introduction of a new international law, the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), helped stimulate labor cooperation and collaboration in the 1990s. The article offers a theory of legal transnationalism – defined as processes by which international laws and legal mechanisms facilitate social movement building at the transnational level – that explains how nascent international legal institutions and mechanisms can help develop collective interests, build social movements, and, ultimately, stimulate cross-border collaboration and cooperation.

NAFTA and the Politics of Labor Transnationalism (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
Makes the provocative argument that global governance institutions can play a pivotal role in the development of transnational social movements, and suggests that globalization need not undermine labor movements: collectively, unions can help shape how the rules governing the global economy are made.
"Theorizing the Relationship between NGOs and the State in Medical Humanitarian Development Projects" (with Asad L. Asad). Social Science & Medicine 120 (2014): 325-333.

Argues that NGOs and their medical humanitarian projects are more likely to succeed when they adjust how they interact with different types of states through processes of interest harmonization and negotiation, and offers a theoretical model for understanding how these processes occur across organizational fields.

In the News

"The Return of ‘Kindergarten Math’ in Battle over Right-to-Work," Tamara Kay (with Gordon Lafer), New Mexico Political Report, January 26, 2016.
Guest to discuss the TPP on KUNM Radio, Tamara Kay, May 21, 2015.
"The Slippery Math of Right-to-Work Advocates," Tamara Kay, Newsweek, May 17, 2015.
"The Misleading Arguments Propelling Right-to-Work Laws," Tamara Kay, The Conversation, May 1, 2015.
Guest to discuss stopping the fast track legislation of the TPP on Voice of Labor, Tamara Kay, April 24, 2015.
Guest to discuss the implications of right-to-work laws on The Morning Brew with Dan Mayfield, Tamara Kay, March 17, 2015.
Tamara Kay quoted on the supposed benefits of right-to-work laws in Erica Garcia, "The Right-to-Work Fight You Aren't Hearing About" National Journal, March 10, 2015.
"There's No Relationship between Right-to-Work Laws and Job Growth," Tamara Kay, Albuquerque Business-First, February 20, 2015.
Tamara Kay quoted on ready-to-work legislation in Mike English, "NM Senate Dems Tout Support for 73,000-Job Bill Package" Albuquerque Business-First, February 19, 2015.
Tamara Kay quoted on right-to-work legislation in Dan Mayfield, "Professor Calls Right-to-Work Study 'Kindergarten Math'" Albuquerque Business-First, February 13, 2015.
"Junk Science Misleading New Mexico Legislators," Tamara Kay (with Gordon Lafer), Las Cruces Sun-News, February 15, 2015.
Tamara Kay quoted on the effectiveness of, and reporting on, right-to-work laws in New Mexico in Andy Lyman, "Differing Views on a Right-to-Work Study" New Mexico Political Report, February 13, 2015.
Guest to discuss challenges and opportunities for social changes in Puerto Rico on Radio Universidad, Tamara Kay, 2010.