Max Koch: Roads to Post-Fordism: Labour Markets and Social Structures in Europe.

Author:Lindstrom, Nicole
Position:Book review

Max Koch

Roads to Post-Fordism: Labour Markets and Social Structures in Europe

Ashgate, 2006, 190 + viiii pp.

ISBN: 0-7546-4308-5 (hbk) 50 [pounds sterling]

First published as the author's Habilitation (second doctoral degree) in 2002, this English-language monograph presents a revised and updated version of the original analysis. Koch puts forward a regulation approach, based in particular on the Parisian school, to understand decades-long trends in the labour markets and social structures of five advanced capitalist states: Germany, Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Koch argues that the shift from Fordism to post-Fordism has not necessarily led to uniform outcomes in labour organisation and socioeconomic regulation. Instead, we can observe diversity in the national trajectories of advanced capitalist states, with varying patterns of inclusion and exclusion. The book maps these diverse post-Fordist capitalist development paths along a continuum between 'capital-oriented' and 'negotiated' growth strategies. The former type is characterised by a weak state, lack of coordination in wage determination and capital-oriented regulatory reforms; and the latter by an engaged state bringing about and supporting compromises in wages and socioeconomic regulation. Through a statistical analysis of labour and social indicators over time, Koch demonstrates how the United Kingdom has pursued a distinctly capital-oriented strategy, while Sweden and the Netherlands remain most tied to a negotiated-growth strategy.

Koch's description of the shift from the Fordist regime of high growth rates, full employment and industrialisation in the 1960s to the post-Fordist period of lower productivity, higher employment and deindustrialisation will be familiar to readers of Capital & Class. What is more novel about this account is Koch's attempt to relate this shift in regimes of accumulation and modes of regulation to changes in domestic labour and social structures across five states and over time. Koch advances four hypotheses related to the composition, decomposition and finally re-composition of Fordist social structures, and tests these through an evaluation of international labour statistics supported by qualitative data. Concerning the composition and decomposition of Fordist social structures, the data tells a familiar story. The concrete historical manifestations of the Fordist growth model varied significantly across countries, leading us...

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