University of Leicester
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The institutionalising of industrial conflict and institutional breakdown: A case-study of Sweden in comparative perspective.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 08:55 authored by James (David James) Fulcher
This thesis examines the life-history of an institutional complex, namely the emergence, functioning and breakdown of joint central regulation in Sweden. Institutionalisation is divided into four stages and comparisons are made with Denmark, Norway and Britain at each stage. The first stage was the formation of the labour movement between l880 and l898. Union organisation developed from a local craft unionism to a class-wide federation. The class-wide character of this federation is explained in terms of the influence of socialism and the movement away from craft unionism, which are in turn related to Sweden's industrialisation and democratisation. The second stage was the employer counter-attack during the first decade of the twentieth century. An escalatory pattern of conflict developed in the engineering industry and then at federal level, the existence of a class-wide union federation stimulating the class-wide organisation of the employers. Out of this conflict came an embryonic joint central regulation, though the defeat of the 1909 general strike led to a reversion to decentralised industrial relations. The third stage saw the establishment of joint central regulation with the negotiation of the 1938 Basic Agreement. While inherited organisational structures were a necessary condition, Social Democrat government precipitated the 1938 compromise but only after attempts to further develop state regulation had failed. Although an organised opposition had developed within labour, the main resistance to joint central regulation came from a group of employers. In the fourth, postwar, stage joint central regulation culminated in the institutionalising of central wage negotiations. The expansion of the public sector, economic growth and intensified political conflict then undermined joint central regulation, though it also had certain self-undermining features. In the 1970's industrial conflict and legislative regulation increased, as the corporatist integration of industrial relations broke down.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

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  • PhD



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