< Back to previous page


Civil Society, Organised Labour & Social Inequality in Advanced Democracies.

The cohesiveness of civil society has long been central to explanations of cross-national differences in poverty and income inequality. Workers' unions, in particular, have been at the core of theories relating to class-based political struggle. Similarly, civil engagement and community-based social partnerships have been cast as potential mechanisms for fostering solidarity. Decades of empirical evidence support these claims. In recent years, however, research has called into question the sustained ability of organised labour and civil society as a bulwark against rising poverty and inequality. Union membership has declined across many advanced economies in recent decades. Likewise, civil engagement across many advanced democracies has waned in recent decades. Despite these observations, few scholars have empirically investigated the changing role of organised labour and civil society in shaping social inequality in the 21st century. None has done so in a cross-national, empirically-driven investigation that accounts for both the internal threats to social cohesiveness, such as shifting composition of the population or diversifying ideologies, and the external threats to social cohesiveness, such as the structural effects of economic change. Thus, this research project proposes to investigate changes in social inequality through the lenses of two mechanisms likely to contribute to it: the shifting the role of organised labour and civil engagement in advanced democracies.
Date:1 Jan 2020  →  Today
Disciplines:Public policy, Social policy, Social differentiation, stratification and social mobility, Sociology of occupations and professions, Sociology of work