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The book explores, first individually and then comparatively, the evolution of the French and Italian Union movements through the end of the 1970s. It will be of particular interest for students of trade unions, industrial relations and political economy in France and Italy, but also those interested in the comparative analysis of advanced industrial democracies more generally.
Established democratic institutions in many advanced societies are facing new challenges. The problem with using trade unions for this purpose is that they remain locked in a cycle of political marginalization and decline. Beyond this, there are, ironically, serious questions about whether unions themselves internally function as democracies. Certainly there are tensions between rank and file membership and an authoritarian leadership, with this infighting having possible effects on strategic deals or alliances and member accountability and actions. On the other hand, trade unions continue to represent a significant component of society within most industrialized countries, and in many case, they have a demonstrated capacity for working with other elements of civil society. Looking forward, trade unions may be able to play a vital role in channeling and focusing spontaneous popular upsurges. In the process, they may revitalize themselves through use of greater internal democracy and become geared toward more diverse constituencies. The question is, will they fulfill this promise or continue to suffer from internal breakups and external breakdowns? Can trade unions save themselves and democracy, or will both deteriorate in time?
Trade Unions and Democracy brings together a distinguished panel of leading and emerging scholars in the field and provides a critical assessment of the current role of trade unions in society. It explores their capacity to affect political policies to ensure greater accountability and fairness. It also explores the nature of and extent to which internal representative democracy actually operates within trade unions themselves.
Mark Harcourt is a professor in the Department of Strategic Management and Leadership at Waikato University in New Zealand.
Hughes found those who struggled to find meaning and purpose amid chaos to be among the most brilliant minds of their century. They included the social historians Bloch and Febvre; the Catholic philosophers Maritain and Marcel; the proponents of heroism Martin du Gard, Bernanos, Saint-ExupÃ©ry, Malraux, and DeGaulle; and the phenomenologists Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. They also included the strangely assorted trio of Camus, Teilhard de Chardin, and LÃ©vi-Strauss, who showed the way to a wider cultural community. Yet in nearly every case these scholars achieved something quite different from what they set out to do. For this self-questioning generation, the interchange between history and anthropology became most compelling and of greatest interest to the world outside.
The Obstructed Path blends H. Stuart Hughes' concern for the many ways in which historians define and practice their craft, his lifelong interest in literature, his fascination with the influence of Marx and Freud, and his empathy with the varieties of Christian thought. It also demonstrates his delicate grasp of singular personalities such as Bernanos, Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre and LÃ©vi-Strauss. His profound insight into the flaws of many elaborate philosophical constructions, and into the core of deep emotions, bold images, and searing passions that were often hidden in them, bring us close to these thinkers and makes this an enduring work.
In analyzing how an entirely new industrial relations system was constructed after 1979, Howell offers a revisionist history of British trade unionism in the twentieth century. Most scholars regard Britain's industrial relations institutions as the product of a largely laissez faire system of labor relations, punctuated by occasional government interference. Howell, on the other hand, argues that the British state was the prime architect of three distinct systems of industrial relations established in the course of the twentieth century. The book contends that governments used a combination of administrative and judicial action, legislation, and a narrative of crisis to construct new forms of labor relations.
Understanding the demise of the unions requires a reinterpretation of how these earlier systems were constructed, and the role of the British government in that process. Meticulously researched, Trade Unions and the State not only sheds new light on one of Thatcher's most significant achievements but also tells us a great deal about the role of the state in industrial relations.