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Labour Repertoires, Regimes of Capitalism, and US Hegemony: What “deviant” Italy in “hybrid” southern Europe tells us about “normal” OECD labour

Antonina Gentile
Department of Political Science, Law, and International Studies, University of Padova
Antonina Gentile
Department of Political Science, Law, and International Studies, University of Padova
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper builds on Gentile & Tarrow’s “Charles Tilly, Globalization, and Labor’s Citizen Rights” (2009), according to which OECD organized labor’s repertoires and alliance patterns relate to the rights domains characteristic of each regime of capitalism rather than to “globalization”: Whereas unions in labor categorizing corporatist regimes utilize primarily a labor repertoire and alliances with other unions, unions in citizen sustaining but labor de-categorizing neo-liberal regimes rely heavily on a citizen repertoire and alliances with citizen groups. The current paper notes, however, that unions in Italy (and other southern European countries of a "new corporatist" regime of capitalism) utilizes both a labor and a citizen repertoire. This is due to Italy’s historical succession of two regimes of capitalism: the first, a neo-liberal regime, established immediately after World War II under US auspices; the second, a corporatist regime, established since the 1960s’ cycle of worker protest and the post-1989 changes to the party system. By means of process tracing and deviant case analysis, the paper argues that, rather than display “deviance”, the case of Italy (and southern Europe): 1) points us towards the more general hegemonic and contentious origins of all current day OECD capitalist regimes; 2) provides insight into the categorical difference between “old” neo-liberal USA and “new’ neo-liberal regimes, i.e., the existence in the latter of a labor-related political party, which permits the possibility of labor’s political recategorization; and 3) helps us revise our theories of OECD labor movements’ post-War losses and subsequent paths to power.