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Fairness in the Social Regulation of Labor Markets: Reasons for Hope?

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Abstract Over the past thirty years the spread of neoliberal ideology has put collective mechanisms for the social regulation of labor markets under severe stress. On the other hand, social norms of fairness, particularly with regard to rewards for work, are very strong. We argue that neoliberal practices have spread less widely and deeply than is commonly imagined. We use ICTWSS data for 34 OECD countries to construct an index of corporatism for each country and a cross-national average for countries in each of six welfare models. Over the period 1960–2010 corporatism declines dramatically in Anglo-Saxon countries but converges to the Continental European mean for the three main groups of European countries. This circumstantial evidence suggests that norms of fairness in the social regulation of labor markets are at least resilient to the encroachment of neoliberal labor market practices.


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