Varieties of Unionism: Strategies for Union Revitalization in a Globalizing Economy

Hardcover | December 20, 2004

EditorCarola Frege, John Kelly

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As unions face an ongoing crisis all over the industrialized world, they have often been portrayed as outmoded remnants of an old economic structure. This book argues that despite structural shifts in the economy and in politics, unions retain important functions for capitalist economies aswell as for political democracy. Union revitalization in the face of their current difficulties is therefore of fundamental importance.The book charts the strategies unions are using to respond to global union decline and to revive their fortunes in five countries - US, UK, Germany, Italy and Spain - providing a wide range of institutional settings, union structures, identities and union responses. It provides a rich source ofdocumentation about union activity, but more importantly it goes beyond description to address two of the big questions in comparative research: How can we explain cross-country differences of union responses to global decline? And how effective are these actions in helping to revitalize the labourmovements? Union strategies and union revitalization outcomes varied strongly across countries and were shaped by national industrial relations institutions, as well as by the interactions between union, employer and state strategies. These findings support the argument for national divergence of the varietiesof capitalism literature and challenge the globalization thesis which predicts a degree of convergence in the fate of union movements across the advanced capitalist world. There is no single revitalization strategy that works well for all union movements; the same strategy is likely to producedifferent results in different countries. Moreover, evidence for variation in revitalization outcomes emerges most clearly when we adopt a multi-dimensional conceptualization of revitalization, moving beyond union membership and density to embrace economic and political power as well as theinstitutional dimension of union reform. Despite serious revitalization attempts in all countries the scale of revitalization is extremely modest when compared to the great upsurges of unionism in history.Varieties of Unionism presents important research and analysis of union strategy for academics and graduate students of Industrial Relations, Management, Politics, Political Economy, and Sociology.

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As unions face an ongoing crisis all over the industrialized world, they have often been portrayed as outmoded remnants of an old economic structure. This book argues that despite structural shifts in the economy and in politics, unions retain important functions for capitalist economies aswell as for political democracy. Union revital...

Carola Frege is a Reader in Industrial Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an Associate Professor at the Department of Labor Studies, Rutgers University. Author of Social Partnership at Work (Routledge, 1999), she has published widely in academic journals and edited collections on comparative industr...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:228 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.56 inPublished:December 20, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199270147

ISBN - 13:9780199270149

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Table of Contents

1. Lowell Turner: Why Revitalize? Labour's Urgent Mission in a Contested Global Economy2. Martin Behrens, Kerstin Hamann, and Richard Hurd: Conceptualizing Labour Union Revitalization3. Carola Frege and John Kelly: Union Strategies in Comparative Context4. Edmund Heery and Lee Adler: Organizing the Unorganized5. Michael Fichter and Ian Greer: Analyzing Social Partnership: A Tool of Union Revitalization?6. Kerstin Hamann and John Kelly: Unions as Political Actors: A Recipe for Revitalization?7. Martin Behrens, Richard Hurd, and Jeremy Waddington: Can Structural Change be a Source of Union Revitalization?8. Carola Frege, Edmund Heery, and Lowell Turner: The New Solidarity? Trade Unions and Coalition Building in Five Countries9. Nathan Lillie and Miguel Martinez Lucio: International Trade Union Revitalization: The Role of National Approaches10. John Kelly and Carola Frege: Conclusions: Varieties of Unionsim

Editorial Reviews

`This important book offers a refreshing comparative perspective on the process of union revitalization, analyzing labor movement efforts to reverse the decline in union density and influence in five advanced capitalist countries. Although duly attentive to the particularities and limits ofeach national context as well as to the global constraints on unionism in this neoliberal age, the authors nonetheless emphasize the range of strategic choices open to labor movements and the reasons for their varied approaches and levels of success.'Ruth Milkman, Director, UCLA Institute of Industrial Relations