Industrial Relations and European State Traditions

Industrial Relations and European State Traditions

Industrial Relations and European State Traditions

Industrial Relations and European State Traditions

Synopsis

The behavior of trade unions, employers, and governments varies widely across the countries of western Europe. Colin Crouch tries to explain these differences and assess their significance. He considers 120 years of industrial relations history in 15 countries and ends by seeking explanations much further back in time than is usually considered necessary.

Excerpt

Over the decade that this book has taken to write, it has come to have three themes. Originally it was to be about the way in which industrial-relations systems changed over time, the different types of system one could identify, and the hypothetically different forms of behaviour and outcomes that might be associated with different types. This remains the predominant substance of the work, though my first intention to study the post-war development of France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom changed into an account of fifteen western countries over 120 years, with a final glance over a far longer historical period.

The second theme concerns the unity and diversity of western European experience. This became an inevitable preoccupation given the period during which the book was written. I began to study European countries other than the United Kingdom in 1975, the year of the British referendum on entry into the European Economic Community, when I joined Alessandro Pizzorno's project on the resurgence after 1968 of industrial conflict in Europe. I finished writing the present volume as the political barriers that had hitherto defined western Europe's eastern boundary came crashing down and the geopolitical identity of Germany, Europe's most important state, changed yet again. and there are widespread expectations that the completion of the single European market by the end of 1992 will lead to an increasing homogeneity of European societies. the British, in particular, whether they are Europhiles or Europhobes, seem to feel that there is a monolithic Europe out there, from which Britain differs rather sharply. My own work has instead impressed upon me the persistent variety of western Europe-- the plural 'traditions' in my title is very self-conscious--and the fact that the United Kingdom is just a part of that variety. On some points she is an outlier, but often she is more 'like', say, France or Germany than those countries are 'like' each other.

The year 1990, when my narrative ends, thus fortuitously saw the close of a chapter in the development of modern Europe. in the coming years Germany's economic and political record will take new paths, and anyone studying European historical . . .

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