Chapter 4: Regulation and representation in Italian industrial relations: between continuities and contradictions
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Italy has been ranked at the bottom of the various indexes of corporatism due to its low level of institutionalization of industrial relations. However, social dialogue has played a dominant role in Italian policy-making, especially in the 1990s. Such contradictions are primarily explained by a higher degree of variation in the strategies and behaviours of industrial relations actors, as due, in turn, to the variation of their respective interests and relative power. Although aspects of such voluntaristic traditions have been celebrated by industrial relations actors, the regulatory efficacy of the model has been called into question in recent times, amid increasing pressures deriving from changing economic and political contexts as well as the expansion of unregulated areas of work. In this chapter, we look specifically at the period following the 2008 economic and the COVID-19 crisis and analyse the impact on the Italian model of industrial relations and its actors. The analysis of the Italian context highlights how social actors continue to play an important role in the regulation of the economy. However, specific tensions remain in relation to the three main domains of action considered in this chapter, namely social dialogue, collective bargaining and representation.

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