Varieties of Unionism: Strategies for Union Revitalization in a Globalizing Economy

TitleVarieties of Unionism: Strategies for Union Revitalization in a Globalizing Economy
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsFrege, Carola, and Kelly, John
PublisherOxford University Press
CityNew York
Keywordscoalition building, economics, globalization, organizational restructuring, political action, social partnership, union decline, union organizing, union politics, union strategy, union structure

As unions face an ongoing crisis all over the industrialized world, they have often been portrayed as outmoded remnants of an old economic structure. This book argues that despite structural shifts in the economy and in politics, unions retain important functions for capitalist economies as well as for political democracy. Union revitalization in the face of their current difficulties is therefore of fundamental importance. This book charts the strategies unions use to respond to global union decline and to revive their fortunes in five countries — the liberal market economies of the US and the UK; the coordinated economy of Germany and the Mediterranean economies of Italy and Spain — thus providing a wide range of institutional settings, union structures, identities, and union responses. Each chapter provides a comparative analysis of a particular strategy, looking in turn at union organizing, social partnership, political action, organizational restructuring, coalition-building, and international action. It provides a rich source of documentation about union activity, but more importantly it goes beyond description to address two of the big questions in comparative research: How can we explain cross-country differences in union responses to global decline? And how effective are these actions in helping to revitalize national labour movements? (publisher's statement)