Conceptualizing Labour Union Revitalization
The chapter argues that union strength, decline, and revitalization are best understood as multi-faceted processes and furthermore, that these processes are best understood in a comparative context. The chapter offers an overview of existing comparative scholarship on union revitalization and examines the claim that unions continue to have an important function in national economies, societies, and politics. Using empirical data, conventional indicators of union strength and decline are compared in the five cases examined in the book. This chapter then develops a four-dimensional approach to study union revitalization comprising membership density, political power, bargaining power, and institutional vitality. The chapter concludes by pointing to the importance of context in analysing comparative union revitalization since the importance of each of the dimensions is likely to vary across countries given different economic, institutional, and political configurations. Furthermore, the chapter argues that union leaders retain an element of choice in deciding on revitalizing strategies.
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