Lucio Baccaro

Political economy della concertazione sociale

  • Abstract

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Based on multiple sources and research methods, this article argues that social concertation is not a declining institutional arrangement, but a recurrent and, overall, stable (if not growing) feature of European societies. Case-based evidence suggests that, at least in the 1990s, governments engaging in social concertation tend to be electorally weak or vulnerable governments seeking to ease the passing and implementation of potentially unpopular (neo-liberal) policies. The institutional and organizations conditions for social concertation seem today rather different from those the past corporatist literature focused upon, that is, concentrated and hierarchical interest groups. Indeed democratic decision-making procedures, ensuring procedural legitimacy and providing opportunities for the discursive reshaping of rank-and-file preferences, may have become more important over time. Also, social concertation has shown a tendency to move from a tripartite (government, labor, and capital) to a multipartite format, with the institutional involvement of multiple civil society organizations alongside the traditional "social partners". The assessment of concertation outcomes is limited by the availability of appropriate indicators. As far wage bargaining coordination is concerned, this seems to be associated with more moderate wage growth. The other conclusion usually drawn by the literature, that it may also be associated with lower unemployment, seems instead much less robust.

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