Politics and Ideology in the Italian Workers' Movement: Union Development and the Changing Role of the Catholic and Communist Subcultures in Postwar Italy

By Gino Bedani | Go to book overview

22
Which Way Forward?

Arguments about Neo-Corporatism

In its bare essentials neo-corporatism defines a formalised system for arriving at trilateral agreements between the state, the employers and the unions. Sympathetic commentators have pointed to the stability of countries such as Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the former West Germany, which have developed neo-corporatist industrial relations procedures. They have argued that these societies have evolved a wide range of institutional innovations and that neo-corporatism has an enhanced capacity to pursue the interests of union members in a disciplined manner. 1

Against those who question the democratic character of neo-corporatist decisions in matters of economic and social policy, the supporters of neo-corporatism have argued that it has given coherence and power to the chosen representatives of vast sectors of the working population. It offers access to high-level negotiations for shaping economic and social policy through a system which attempts to rationalise modes of representation which otherwise would remain scattered, fragmented, and prey to the powerful. Neo-corporatism has thus been described by analysts such as Walter Korpi as a more advanced and better organized form of democracy in which the capacity for collective action is more evenly distributed and controlled and the relations with authority are rendered more open and stable. 2

Opponents of neo-corporatism from the left of the sindacato have produced a variety of counter-arguments. It is seen by them as a manoeuvre to favour the interests of the establishment. The

____________________
1
See P. C. Schmitter, 'Teoria della democrazia e pratica neo-corporatista', pp. 118ff.
2
This is the argument presented in W. Korpi, The Democratic Class Struggle.

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