From the Crisis of Corporatism to the Crisis of Governance

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    In the first half of the 20th century and in particular in the interwar period corporatism, in its progressive, populist, reactionary and totalitarian variants, became a central feature of European societies. Many observers have regarded this development as a central driving force of the profound societal crises characterising this period. Other observers, on the other hand, have mainly seen the corporatist surge as a reaction and possible solution to societal crises. In a similar vein the emergence and expansion of new types of governance institutions since the 1980s have been understood as both the cause and as a reaction to the protracted series of crises characterizing (Western) Europe and the rest of the Western world from the 1970s to the recent financial crisis. On this background, this paper examines the close link between societal crises and the evolution of intermediary institutions in their corporatist, neo-corporatist and governance variants. Intermediary institutions, it is argued, fulfil a dual role insofar as they simultaneously are oriented towards the internal stabilization of social processes and the establishment of compatibility between the social process in question and the rest of society. This gives them a strategic location in society insofar as they can be understood as central sites of societal integration. But this location also implies that they are sites where tendencies of de-differentiation between societal processes of e.g. an economic, political, religious and scientific nature tend emerge and become most visible. Intermediary institutions are in other words central battlefields where the integration as well as the dis-integration of society unfolds. In this context, law and legal instruments gain a specific strategic function as the central framework through which the dual function of intermediary institutions is stabilised and maintained over time.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication dateDec 2014
    Number of pages18
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014
    Event3rd ITEPE Conference: European Crises from Weimar until Today - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
    Duration: 11 Dec 201412 Dec 2014
    Conference number: 3


    Conference3rd ITEPE Conference
    LocationCopenhagen Business School
    Internet address

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