Labour Movements, Employers and the State: Conflict and Cooperation in Britain and Sweden

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This comparative study uses Barrington Moore's notion of 'suppressed historical alternatives' to reassess theories of industrial conflict, class organization, and state intervention. It explores the origins of organizational differences in the emergence of labour movements and the employer counter-attack, emphasizing the strength of Sweden's neglected craft unions and the forgotten attempts by British unions to build Swedish style national federations. It examines the strong tendencies towards state control in Sweden and repeated British efforts to establish joint central regulation, which have been similarly overlooked. Unfashionable institutionalist explorations of the Swedish labour peace are defended but it is also argued that the Swedish system of regulation was self-undermining. The book analyses the failure of corporatist integration in both countries and the ensuing struggle between left and right alternatives. The attempt to bring about economic and industrial democracy in Sweden, the decline of the British unions, and current tendencies towards a neo-liberal convergence, are all discussed.