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International Socialism, January 1978


Donny Gluckstein

Sociological Jargon


From International Socialism (1st series), No. 104, January 1978, p. 27.
Transcribed by Christian Høgsbjerg, with thanks to Sally Kincaid.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Class Conflict & the Industrial Relations Crisis
by Colin Crouch
Heinemann Education £7.50

The title of this book is a complete misnomer. Far from studying conflict between classes there is an exposition of ruling-class attempts to attack workers’ living standards and organisation. The question is not one of ‘class conflict’ at all. The 1960s and 1970s are explained as a battle between supporters of ‘the Compromise’ (free collective bargaining) and ‘Corporatism’ (state intervention, wage controls, the Industrial Relations Act and Social Contract).

Conspicuously absent from the book is the working class. Workers are termed ‘subordinates’ and we are enlightened with such insights as: ‘first and perhaps most important, unions are organisations representing their members’. Detailed study of trade union bureaucracy, or the rank and file is quite absent.

Apart from quite acute analysis of the sort of thinking of the Corporatists and their different attacks on the workers, their attempts to integrate unions into the state and motives behind productivity deals, this book offers little.

If you want to understand the class struggle over the last period avoid this book. Conflict is replaced by argument on whether state intervention is good or bad, rather than the real motive forces of class struggle. Workers are treated as little more than obstacles in the way of government economic strategy, and they are certainly not encouraged to read this book – an impenetrable fog of sociological jargon makes certain of that.

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