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Title: Strong Governments, Precarious Workers: Labor Market Policy in the Era of Liberalization

Author: Philip Rathgeb

Publication Date: 15th December 2018

234 pages I Hardback I £44.00/$55

Cornell University Press

Interview on the book with 1869, the Cornell University Press Podcast

From Europe, you may order here: Combined Academic Publishers

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"Rathgeb's excellent study engages with important and timely issues for both research and society and should be read widely by scholars and experts in the fields of welfare state politics, political economy, and employment relations."

- Perspectives on Politics

"Strong Governments, Precarious Workers delivers a clear and intriguing argument that should stimulate debate and research in the years to come."

- ILR Review

"Academics and practitioners have much to gain from Rathgeb’s political analysis of how to advance social solidarity and protect precarious workers in the neoliberal era."

- Work, Employment and Society

"Strong Governments, Precarious Workers provides an innovative take on a much-debated issue, making it highly recommended reading for all scholars concerned with the transformations of labour relations in modern capitalism."

- Journal of Social Policy

"Conversely to existing theoretical arguments that consider trade unions as organisations that contribute to both labour market dualization and the emergence of precarious work, this book takes a much more brave and provocative approach, which without any doubt contributes to its merits."


- British Journal of Industrial Relations

"Strong Governments, Precarious Workers develops a very interesting and innovative argument about the determinants of inclusive labor market policies. It argues that these reforms emerge when cohesive labor movements are able to influence the policy-making process, which in turn is more likely to happen if governments are "weak." The case studies of Austria, Denmark, and Sweden document that, surprisingly, it was in Austria and not in the two Scandinavian countries, that pro-outsider reforms were introduced, and their features were shaped by union intervention. The book's argument casts doubt on the thesis, popular in the dualization research, that trade unions are naturaliter pro-insider. In contrast with it, it suggests that they are the most consistent defenders of the interests of outsiders, not only for solidarity reasons, but also to further their own self-interests."

- Lucio Baccaro, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies and University of Geneva, co-author of Trajectories of Neoliberal Transformation


"Philip Rathgeb’s book is a highly innovative and thought-provoking study of labor market reform in European countries. In pointing to the continued role of inclusive trade unions in resisting precarious employment, it is a tremendously important contribution to recent debates about the driving forces of labor market dualization, which will have a significant impact on the field."

- Marius R. Busemeyer, University of Konstanz, author of Skills and Inequality

"Philip Rathgeb’s book presents a novel and insightful interpretation of the role of unions and their interactions with governments in the crafting of labor-market reforms in contemporary Europe. The book is clearly structured and well written, presenting case studies of Austria, Denmark and Sweden in a lively, engaging way."

- Jonas Pontusson, University of Geneva, author of Inequality and Prosperity

"Looking at three small European countries, Philip Rathgeb shows that dual labor markets result from trade union weakness, not strength. Governments, both left and right, tend to protect core workforces from neoliberal reform, concentrating cuts in protection at the bottom end of the labor market. But when governments are weak, strong unions can and do prevent this. The book challenges theories that blame precarious employment on union clientelism."


- Wolfgang Streeck, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, author of How Will Capitalism End?

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