Paradigm Shifts, Power Resources and Labour Market Reform

  • Peter Taylor-Gooby


This chapter is concerned with the question raised in Chapter 1, of how shifts at the level of ideas, as opposed to shifts in the power resources available to particular interests and at the economic level, influence policy change. We explore the argument by reviewing recent transitions in labour market policy in France, Germany and the UK. The policy area of employment is chosen because here the implications of the shift from broadly Keynesian to a broadly monetarist approach are significant, where reforms have been pursued against opposition across Europe, and where the reforms involve major shifts in the core ideas underlying policy. It is thus suitable for analysis of the contribution of ideas to policy change. France and Germany are chosen as Bismarckian countries where traditional industrial welfare states are firmly entrenched, and where the welfare state has been seen as ‘immobile’. The UK offers a contrast — a liberal-leaning country with a majoritarian democracy subject to rapid reform in recent years. The contrast between the different contexts offers an opportunity to see how paradigm shift is to be understood in terms of national setting. We will trace policy development to see how far the changes correspond to the emergence of new paradigms, the role of discourse and the capacity of particular actors to promote or obstruct change.


Labour Market Early Retirement Unemployment Benefit Labour Market Policy Power Resource 
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© Peter Taylor-Gooby 2005

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  • Peter Taylor-Gooby

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