Unions and Politics: Parties, Alliances, and the Battle of Ideas

Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick and Richard Hyman

in Trade Unions in Western Europe

Published in print October 2013 | ISBN: 9780199644414
Published online January 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191756290 | DOI:
Unions and Politics: Parties, Alliances, and the Battle of Ideas

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Union political influence in most countries is declining. This stems in part from the constrained policy options of national governments in an era of neoliberal globalization, but also reflects a general weakening of unions’ organizational capacity. This in turn limits trade unions’ strategic options. Increased autonomy from their associated (and often ‘parent’) parties both requires, and enables, unions to rethink their social purpose. The whole idea of a labour movement implies a goal, a vision, which transcends the immediate task of representation in the workplace, however important this may be. Unions have increasingly attempted – albeit to varying degrees and with differing effectiveness – to develop new political resources through cultivating alliances with other progressive organizations and groups, and by taking more seriously the need to define a social vision and construct an effective language to propagate it.

Keywords: ideology; politics; political parties; union-party links; social democracy; christian democracy; communism; interest group representation

Chapter.  11720 words. 

Subjects: Human Resource Management

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