Industrial Relations as a Source of Social Policy: A Typology of the Institutional Conditions for Industrial Agreements on Social Benefits


Address for correspondence: Christine Trampusch, Department of Political Science, University of Berne, Lerchenweg 36, CH-3000 Berne 9, Switzerland. Email:


The article's starting point is that the now-conventional conceptualization of welfare state retrenchment as a shift from state provision of income support to market processes is misleading. Rather, state provision may be replaced by benefits negotiated collectively by trade unions and employers. As a first step to further investigate this development the article suggests a typology of institutional contexts within which industrial agreements on social benefits emerge. This typology is based on Thomas H. Marshall's distinction between political and industrial citizenship. Following the comparative method of the ‘parallel demonstration of theory’, the typology is applied to four countries where collective agreements on social benefits have recently been concluded, namely Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Germany. It is argued that, on the one hand, the state's activity or passivity in labour relations and, on the other hand, the timing of the institutionalization of political and industrial citizenship is decisive for the development of collectively negotiated benefits. The conclusion for comparative welfare state research is that, when viewing policies of welfare state retrenchment, the research should systematically include industrial relations and their historical trajectories in its frame of reference.