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Disconnected capitalism: or why employers can't keep their side of the bargain

Thompson, P. (2003) Disconnected capitalism: or why employers can't keep their side of the bargain. Work, Employment and Society, 17 (2). pp. 359-378. ISSN 0959-0170

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Abstract

Those who ply their trade by purveying ideas - academics, policy entrepreneurs, consultants and the like - have a vested interest in proclaiming the new. It is much harder to make a reputation or a splash in the ideas pool by arguing that nothing much has changed. Let's call this the continuity option. Since the early 1980s the big picture franchise has passed to and through a variety of paradigm break theories. We have moved from and through flexible specialization, new production concepts, lean production, post-Fordism, postmodernization, and lately the knowledge economy. While there have, of course, been variations in these perspectives, we can also observe a number of common themes. The argument of this article is that while model building necessarily tends to overstate system cohesiveness, there are powerful structural tendencies, driven by developments in capital markets, which are exacerbating disunity between these different domains. Within modern capitalism economic actors are finding it increasingly difficult to 'make connections' between objectives in the spheres of work and employment, and simultaneously employers are finding it harder to keep their side of any bargain with employees.