Conclusions to Part II

Alastair J. Reid

in The Tide of Democracy

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780719081033
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702949 | DOI:
Conclusions to Part II

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This chapter presents conclusions to Part II, covering Chapters 7–9. As trade unions grew from small local clubs into large national organisations they moved away from a simple, direct democracy, in which everyone had an equal voice and offices were held in rotation, towards an increasing differentiation between ordinary members and full-time officials. Through the delegation of responsibilities, usually accompanied by a growing passivity on the part of the majority, there emerged a group of more specialised functionaries. Although these members were in principle still in the position of delegates, it soon became difficult for the others to exercise close supervision over all of their activities: the full-time officials were therefore obliged to act increasingly on their own responsibility and gradually to acquire some of the characteristics of autonomous leadership. Good leadership of a craft union was a combination of discriminating risk-taking, prudent financial stewardship, strategic innovation and effective public relations.

Keywords: trade unions; craft unions; union leaders; democracy; autonomous leadership

Chapter.  4307 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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