Reflexive Labour Law in the World Society

Reflexive Labour Law in the World Society

Ralf Rogowski

Reflexive Labour Law in the World Society investigates trends in labour and employment law from the perspective of modern social systems theory. It uses Niklas Luhmann’s theory of the world society and Gunther Teubner’s reflexive law concept for an analysis of modern employment law and industrial relations. Areas investigated include: reflexive employment protection; the reflexive regulation and deregulation of labour market policies and labour law; reflexivity in labour and employment conflict resolution; reflexive coordination and implementation of EU social and employment law; and reflexive global labour law.

Chapter 3: Industrial relations as a social system

Ralf Rogowski

Subjects: law - academic, european law, labour, employment law, law and society, social policy and sociology, labour policy


The chapter proposes to adopt a new view of industrial relations as a fully-fledged auto poietic function system operating within the world society. The recognition of industrial relations within labour law has been a major reason for the development of labour law as a separate field of regulation. In Germany, Hugo Sinzheimer’s theory of the collective bargaining agreement (korporativer Arbeitsnormenvertrag), which he developed in the first decade of the twentieth century, is widely seen as the start of labour law as an academic discipline (Sinzheimer 1977 [1907]). At the same time the British Trades Dispute Act of 1906 was the official recognition of industrial relations as a system of collective laissez-faire and self-regulation. However, it took until the second half of the twentieth century for the academic discipline of labour law to emerge in the United Kingdom, mainly due to Otto Kahn-Freund’s efforts, in particular his analysis of collective bargaining and the double nature of collective agreements as codes and contracts which captured well the voluntarist nature of British industrial relations (Kahn-Freund 1983, ch. 6).

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