Trade unions and democracy

Strategies and perspectives

Edited by Mark Harcourt and Geoffrey Wood

Trade unions and democracy


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-6979-6
  • Pages: 432
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £20.00
  • Published Date: April 2009
  • BIC Category: Politics, Trade unions, Industrial relations, health & safety, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Labor & Industrial Relations, Society & social sciences / Political structures: democracy, Economics, finance, business & management / Trade unions
  • Series: Perspectives on Democratic Practice


Available for the first time in paperback, this book explores the role of trade unions as products of, and agents for, democracy. The crisis facing established democratic institutions in the advanced societies has been widely noted. In response, there has been increasing interest in the role of civil society actors, ranging from established socio-political collectives to new grassroots organisations. On the one hand, conventional wisdom holds that organised labour in the advanced societies has remained locked in a cycle of political marginalisation and decline. On the other hand, unions continue to represent a significant component of society within most industrialised countries. Indeed, in many cases, they have demonstrated a capacity for effective renewal and for co-ordinating their efforts with other civil society actors as part and parcel of the current groudswell of public opinion against the neo-liberal orthodoxy.

The book brings together a distinguished panel of leading and emerging scholars in the field, and provides a critical assessment of the current role of unions in society, their capacity to impact on state policies in such a manner as to ensure greater accountability and fairness, and the nature and extent of internal representative democracy within the labour movement.

This volume will be of interest to students and academics in the fields of industrial relations, critical management studies, political studies and sociology, as well as trade union and community activists.


1: Introduction - Trade Unions and democracy: possibilities and contradictions
2: Trade unions and theories of democracy
3: Neo-Liberal reforms and accords: are they compatible with democracy?
4: Trade unions and democracy: can the third way recast the lnk?
5: Unions and non-standard employment
6: New forms of work and the representational gap: a Durban case study
7: The changing impact and strength of the labour movement in advanced societies
8: The U.S. and Canadian labour movements: markets vs. states and societies
9: The rise and fall of the organizing model in the US
10: Union growth and reversal in newly industrialised countries: The case of South Korea and peripheral workers
11: The rise of unions in semi-industrialized countries: the cases of South Africa and Zimbabwe
12: Social movement unionism
13: Unions and politics
14: Trade union democracy: the dynamics of different forms
15: Unions and social partnerships
16: Engagement or disengagement? unions and a new politics
17: Conclusion


Mark Harcourt is Associate Professor in the Department of Strategic Management at Waikato University in New Zealand. Geoffrey Wood is Professor in Human Resource Management in the School of Management at the University of Sheffield

Trade unions and democracy

Edited by Mark Harcourt, Geoffrey Wood

Paperback £20.00 / $41.00

Hardcover £80.00 / $120.00

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