Managing Modern Capitalism: Industrial Renewal and Workplace Democracy in the United States and Western Europe

Managing Modern Capitalism: Industrial Renewal and Workplace Democracy in the United States and Western Europe

Managing Modern Capitalism: Industrial Renewal and Workplace Democracy in the United States and Western Europe

Managing Modern Capitalism: Industrial Renewal and Workplace Democracy in the United States and Western Europe

Synopsis

The development of the welfare state has been accompanied by greater freedoms being granted to workers in industrialized capitalist countries. The themes of this volume concern how governments, trade unions, and workers have acted to promote economic growth and economic accountability with active industrial or worker self-management policies. The key dimensions of economic, social, and political change in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Sweden are analyzed in the book's essays--focusing on workplace reforms and economic management in a variety of national settings.

Excerpt

One of the most pressing challenges confronting modern democratic leaders is the necessity to promote continued material growth under conditions of expanded rights of citizenship. Throughout much of the post-World War II period economic growth in the United States and most West European countries was accompanied by an extension of suffrage rights, individual civil liberties, and security at the workplace. The expansion of transfer payments and social services, that is, the development of the modern welfare state, ensured that the dividends of economic growth were broadly shared, benefiting the old, the poor, the sick, and others marginal to the labor market, as well as those who were well off. Postwar economic and political developments yielded an unparalleled, sustained, and widely shared improvement in the standard of living for practically all citizens up to the first oil crisis of 1973-74.

Beginning in the mid-1970s, however, the onset of destabilizing international economic trends set into motion centrifugal political and social forces that have partially unraveled the postwar Keynesian consensus on fundamental policy objectives on both sides of the Atlantic. Many conservative Americans and Europeans have concluded that economic imperatives must necessarily take precedence over an active social agenda and have, indeed, diagnosed governmental intervention in the economy as the cause of international "stagflation" during much of the 1970s and early 1980s. Their prescriptive cure is the shift to the market- directed strategy of growth associated with "Thatcherism" and "Reaganism." In contrast, critics in the center and on the left argue just as vociferously that governments must continue to pursue strategies of economic and social activism in response to slow growth rates and high long-term unemployment.

The ideological controversies that accompanied the policy debate during the 1970s and 1980s reflect fundamental structural and political changes which are currently transforming modern capitalism as a domestic and international economic system. Key among them are the globalization of production and finance, the diffusion of new forms of social and political consciousness, and recurrent shifts in the balance of power between employers and organized labor. The cumulative effect of these changes is to underscore anew the complexity and indeterminateness of modernization as an ongoing process of system transformation. If modernization can be defined as a cumulative extension of control by men and women over their . . .

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