Workers' Participation in Post-Liberation France

Workers' Participation in Post-Liberation France

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This is a portrait of French labour's failure to achieve greater industrial democracy. Drawing on original archival research, Adam Steinhouse has recast the traditional view of this critical period of French history, demonstrating the fundamental importance of the immediate post-liberation period in determining the future course of industrial relations in France. He looks at the labour disputes of the 1940s and the interplay between industry and politicians that dealt a crushing blow to organized labour's demands for political change. Steinhouse examines the rise of state intervention in the economy and the growth of French employers' organized intransigence in the face of workers' collective action, which culminated in a series of actions effectively marginalizing labour's voice in the economic book of the early 1950s.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 154.9 x 231.1 x 25.4mm | 498.96g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • bibliography, index
  • 0739102826
  • 9780739102824

Review quote

A must read for anyone interested in labor history in the postwar period. Steinhouse focuses on the crucial period of 1944-48 when the "rules of the game" of labor relations are worked out for the decades to come. Based on meticulous research in the relevant archives, he sketches out the tripartite relationship that develops between the unions, the state, and the business community in great detail. It is a story where the hopes, after the Liberation, for a more peaceful relationship between capital and labor are dashed.--Judith E. Vichniac, Harvard University The campaign to give French workers a new role in the workplace epitomized the high hopes and idealism of the Liberation. Adam Steinhouse has made an important contribution to understanding what became of the reformist elan of 1944. In this thoroughly researched and very able work, Steinhouse shows that the disappointment of Liberation aspirations was no straightforward betrayal. His analysis exposes a steady retreat from activism on the part of state officials, a stubborn resistance to change on the part of employers, and a lukewarm commitment on the part of the main trade union confederation and the powerful Communist party. This carefully reasoned and convincing study breaks new ground and will be of considerable interest to historians of postwar France.--Andrew Shennan, Wellesley College Through meticulous archival research and deft analysis, Adam Steinhouse explains why new forms of worker participation held such radical promise after the Liberation of France in 1944 only to become innocuous a few years later. He brings under tough but fair scrutiny the powerful employers who proved fiercely determined to reassert their old authority, as well as the leftwing government officials, politicians, and trade unionists who failed to take full advantage of a unique opportunity to strengthen the collective voice of labor in the French workplace. This is an important contribution to French history and to the general study of industrial relations.--Herrick Chapman, New York University A fresh and lucid analysis of an exceptional moment, combining the best practices of history and political science.--Robert Gildea, Merton College, Oxford University Adam Steinhouse's book is an important work that deserves to be read by all those interested in business, unions, and the state, and indeed by anyone concerned with the political and economic history of postwar Europe.--Richard C. Vinen, Kings College London Adam Steinhouse's book provides a good overview of the crucial period 1944 to 1948, when the basic institutions and patterns of labor relations were set for what turned out to be the next forty years. His use of the archives of the Ministry of Labor, prefect reports and Prime Minister's cabinet details the give-and-take process. In the end, although workers were far more represented in the workplace and the state than before the war, this was qualitatively less than in fuller corporatist set-ups like Sweden and Germany.--John Barzman, University of Le Havre
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About Adam Steinhouse

Adam Steinhouse has taught at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and at the London School of Economics. He is currently Senior Lecturer in European Government at the U.K. Civil Service College.
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