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What is Alive and What is Dead in the Theory of Corporatism

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Abstract

The term ‘corporatism’ simultaneously designates a particular interest group structure, characterized by monopolistic, centralized and internally non-democratic associations, and a particular policy-making process, also known as ‘concertation’ or ‘social partnership’. This paper argues that structure and process may no longer be closely associated. By focusing on the Irish and Italian cases, it shows that concertation is perfectly compatible with a non-corporatist structure of the interest representation system. Inter- and intra-organizational co-ordination remains important for the viability of concertation. However, it can be achieved, even in relatively fragmented systems like the Irish and the Italian, through alternative mechanisms relying on democracy and discussion.

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