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Journal Article

Diverging Solidarity: Labor Strategies in the New Knowledge Economy


Thelen,  Kathleen A.
Auswärtiges Wissenschaftliches Mitglied, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Ibsen, C. L., & Thelen, K. A. (2017). Diverging Solidarity: Labor Strategies in the New Knowledge Economy. World Politics, 69(3), 409-447. doi:10.1017/S0043887117000077.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-A08E-D
The transition from Fordist manufacturing to the so-called knowledge economy confronts organized labor across the advanced market economies with a new and more difficult landscape. Many scholars have suggested that the future of egalitarian capitalism depends on forging new political coalitions that bridge the interests of workers in the “new” and “old” economies. This article explores current trajectories of change in Denmark and Sweden, two countries that are still seen as embodying a more egalitarian model of capitalism. The authors show that labor unions in these countries are pursuing two quite different strategies for achieving social solidarity—the Danish aimed at equality of opportunity and the Swedish aimed at equality of outcomes. The article examines the origins of these different strategic paths and explores the distinctive distributional outcomes they have produced. The conclusion draws out the broad lessons these cases hold for the choices currently confronting labor movements throughout the advanced industrial world.