Understanding the Role of Institutions in Industrial Relations: Perspectives from Classical Sociological Theory



Theories of industrial relations have called for a stronger integration of the economic and social. Whereas economists have studied economic functions of institutions, neo-institutional approaches in sociology have strongly rejected economic explanation in favor of seeing institutions as taken-for-granted cognitive assumptions. To further dialogue among these perspectives, this study reconstructs the concept of institutions in the classical sociological theory of Durkheim and Weber. Both classical perspectives place the dynamic tensions between the economic and social at the center of their theories, but develop these in distinct ways. The study illustrates the potential and limits of these four theoretical perspectives on institutions with regard to the empirical case of codetermination in Germany.