Reforming the Workplace: A Study of Self-Regulation in Occupational Safety

By Joseph V. Rees | Go to book overview
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PREFACE

The historian Henry Adams once compared the course of American history to the movement of a pendulum -- a cyclical rhythm in which the national mood and direction alternates every twelve years. The recent history of government social regulation suggests a similar ebb and flow. Indeed, during the past twenty-five years the swing of the historical pendulum has been quite remarkable. Consider first the pro-regulation mood of the early 1960s to middle 1970s, an era of public purpose that led to an enormous expansion of federal regulation -- environmental, health, and safety. Then consider the anti-regulation ethos of the middle 1970s to late 1980s, a private interest era that resulted in a powerful drive to reduce the scope of government regulation, as public problems were turned over to the invisible hand of the market. Now this cycle of government regulation appears to have almost run its course. As the 1980s wind to a close, there are signs not only that the crusade against government regulation is losing momentum, but also that public support is once again increasing for measures to extend and deepen the effective reach of protective social regulation. If government regulation is at a turning point, the question is where that turning point leads as we enter the 1990s.

-vii-

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