The Politics of Labor in Late‐Industrializing and Post‐socialist Economies: New Challenges in a Global Age

Christopher Candland and Rudra Sil

in The Politics of Labor in a Global Age

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780199241149
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598920 | DOI:
 The Politics of Labor in Late‐Industrializing and Post‐socialist Economies: New Challenges in a Global Age

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The increasingly rapid transnational movement of capital, commodities, services, information, and technology force labour institutions everywhere to respond to new challenges and pressures. This is evident in the effects of structural adjustment on political unionism in countries such as India and Mexico, in the shifts in employment practices and labour processes accompanying the privatization of state‐owned enterprises in post‐communist Europe and in China, and even in unanticipated shifts in industrial relations in Japan. This introductory chapter sets the stage for the rest of the volume by considering how the analysis of recent changes in industrial relations under conditions of economic transformation also serves to illuminate the social forces that frequently influence the politics of economic reform while helping to more effectively bridge the fields of comparative industrial relations and political economy. The chapter also emphasizes how the comparison of the changing experiences of workers and labour institutions in late‐industrializing and post‐socialist settings can be employed to systematically explore the meaning and limits of the currently fashionable concept of “globalization” in settings with different historical inheritances and institutional structures. Four specific points are highlighted in terms of the distinctiveness of the studies collected here. First, by comparing post‐socialist and late‐industrializing countries within a framework that combines industrial relations and political economy, this volume goes beyond the experiences of advanced industrial economies. Second, this volume elaborates the various historical process and social structures that shaped the distinctive formal and informal institutional arrangements designed to manage the complex relationships between labour, management, and the state, in very different kinds of economies. Third, in contrast to those comparative studies of industrial relations that ignore external effects, it explores how transformations in the global economy have affected existing institutions related to labour‐management relations while posing certain common challenges and opportunities for key economic factors in each country. Finally, in contrast to those who view “globalization” as a dominant force leading to the erosion of distinctive national economic institutions, this study focuses on labour institutions in order to detail how historical legacies and external constraints and opportunities are incorporated into distinctive strategies employed by labour and by other economic factors as they negotiate new pacts and reconsider existing institutional arrangements.

Keywords: economic reform; globalization; industrial relations; labour institutions; late‐industrializing countries; political economy; post‐socialist countries; privatization; trade unions

Chapter.  13099 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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