Pipers Woerterbuch zur Politik

Authors: Nohlen
Summary: In approximately 1100 words the entry distinguishes between a traditional/medieval and a modern understanding of the concept, traces its meaning through the late 19th and 20th century, establishes three necessary analytical dimensions, and focuses on three policy areas at the center of the debate. The German literature tends to use the terms neo-corporatism or liberal corporastism to distinguish modern forms of interest formation and incorporation of large societal interest groups into state decision-making processes from the traditional medieval understanding of the concept. Historically, the entry argues that the term described the strict structure and interest representation of medieval classes (Staenden), which came under attack by liberal state theorists which aimed to base societal relationships on individual interest and property. While during the 19th century conservative state theorists attempted to rescue notions of organized group interest representation, only the First World War economies developed strong corporatist relationships especially because labor representation became fully accepted. Discredited by fascist state corporatist practices, the entry highlights that the term regained increasing popularity since the mid 1970s. It is argued that the terms is most helpful as an analytical concept of analysis to describe the reality of decision-making processes in advanced capitalist countries. The entry distinguishes three dimensions of modern corporatist structures: actors and their interest, levels of politics, and arenas of politics. Those lead to an understanding of specific forms of cooperation and conflict in certain societies with distinct outcomes. The entry focuses on three large policy issues where formal and informal corporatist structures became dominant in Germany: bargaining processes over wages, crisis ridden industries such as coal and steel, and social policy. The entry ends with a critical discussion of strictly theoretical contributions to the corporatism literature and highlights the value of empirical studies especially in comparative perspective.