Changing Regimes of Workplace Governance, Shifting Axes of Social Mobilization, and the Challenge to Industrial Relations Theory

27 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2006

See all articles by Michael J. Piore

Michael J. Piore

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Sean C. Safford

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Abstract

This article challenges prevailing views about the collapse of the New Deal industrial relations system and the role of the market. It argues that the old system has been replaced not by the market but by an employment rights regime, in which the rules of the workplace are imposed by law, judicial opinions, and administrative rulings, supplemented by mechanisms at the enterprise level that are responsive to the law but also are susceptible to employee pressures, both individual and collective. The emergence of this regime is the product of a shift in the axes of social and political mobilization from mobilization around economic identities rooted in class, industry, occupation, and enterprise to identities rooted in the society outside the workplace: sex, race, ethnicity, age, disability, and sexual orientation. The shift in the axes of mobilization in turn reflects the collapse of the underlying model of social and economic organization upon which the collective bargaining regime was built and more fundamentally a shift in our understanding of the nature of industrial society and its direction of evolution in history. This interpretation poses a challenge to the conceptual tools used in industrial relations to understand the issues of work and to frame the public policy debate. We conclude with some suggestions as to the direction in which we might move to provide an alternative conceptual framework.

Suggested Citation

Piore, Michael J. and Safford, Sean C., Changing Regimes of Workplace Governance, Shifting Axes of Social Mobilization, and the Challenge to Industrial Relations Theory. Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 299-325, July 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=909331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-232X.2006.00439.x

Michael J. Piore (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

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Sean C. Safford

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

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Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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