Corporatism, political institutions and economic performance: Advances in contemporary European history

Corporatism, political institutions and economic performance: Advances in contemporary European history

The chief purpose of this project is to provide a platform for the development of innovative historical research on twentieth century Europe. The project's methodological approach is both interdisciplinary and comparative, gathering a variety of scholars from different disciplines within the social sciences and humanities, with a main interest on historical, European comparative studies. The organization of research activities will reflect the diversity of approaches built upon a broad subject of intellectual inquiry.

The project focuses on corporatism as a key historical concept and movement, though its aims and scope go far beyond the limits of the historical experiments associated with inter-war, authoritarian corporatism and post-war democratic or societal (neo-) corporatism. In fact, the project will address issues closely related to the functioning of political and economic institutions and will address wider problems related to economic performance, growth and integration in twentieth century Europe. Though the attention given to the study of Portuguese historical experience will be paramount, the main purpose in mind is to provide the grounds for the development of a truly international research agenda.

Given the ample set of issues to be addressed, the project encompasses the intellectual interests and motivations, not only of economic historians and historians of economics, but also of a broader group of general historians, sociologists and political scientists alike. Without renouncing the use of a technical language and analytical tools from both economics and political science, the outcome of the project will attempt to meet the interests of a wider public concerned with the historical developments within the social sciences in general.

This research project will offer new arguments showing the relevance of both the inter-war corporatist experiments and the post-war neo-corporatist reflections, not only for a better understanding of the development and spread of economic ideas, analyses and policies during those periods, but also to explain how different political regimes may accommodate and make use of notions and concepts with a much broader meaning and scope. With this purpose in mind, special emphasis will be given to those notions put forward with the twofold objective of avoiding social conflict and achieving social harmony.

Among such founding ideas incorporated into the corporatist discourse, one can find a number of notions and moral precepts that were to become central tenets of 20th-century corporatism (both authoritarian and democratic), namely organic harmony and cohesion, social regeneration, mutuality, solidarity, justice, willing consent, spontaneous fellowship, etc. The implementation of these principles has required the creation, restoration and strengthening of those institutions considered crucial for generating the spirit of social homogeneity, loyalty and national pride, such as the family unit, the school, local associations, corporate groupings, the workplace, the church and the State.

On the whole, these principles and institutions may be considered as the pillars of a model of social organisation, different from both liberalism and socialism, which represented the main target in the battle waged by corporatist supporters in the interwar period and by neo-corporatists after the war, especially from the late 1960s onwards.

It is also worth pointing out that the study of both authoritarian and democratic corporatism calls for a different way of looking at the factors and conditions for economic growth.

The project will reconstruct the historical origins and roots of the corporatist movement and survey both the triumphant and the unsuccessful experiments that took place in several European countries. It will also provide a lengthy discussion of the critical dialogues and mutual appraisal occurring between corporatism and other schools of economic thought, such as neoclassical and Keynesian economics.

Special emphasis will be given to the presentation of the different arguments presented about the State's place in the economic order and the various forms of its intervention. In fact, the corporatist debate serves as an excellent pretext for a broader discussion of economic policy issues, such as: the way in which political structures adapt themselves and provide institutional conditions for the promotion of sustainable economic growth and social change; the social and political limits preventing the adoption of full employment commitments, labour regulations and income redistribution policies; the shortcomings arising from training, educational, health and other social policies left to the contingencies of the market or assigned to the responsibility of State bureaucracies; the role of social partnership in building up social cohesion at both the national and international level.

 

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
Yes
Entidades: 
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Keywords: 

Corporatism, Contemporary history, Political institutions, Economic history

The chief purpose of this project is to provide a platform for the development of innovative historical research on twentieth century Europe. The project's methodological approach is both interdisciplinary and comparative, gathering a variety of scholars from different disciplines within the social sciences and humanities, with a main interest on historical, European comparative studies. The organization of research activities will reflect the diversity of approaches built upon a broad subject of intellectual inquiry.

The project focuses on corporatism as a key historical concept and movement, though its aims and scope go far beyond the limits of the historical experiments associated with inter-war, authoritarian corporatism and post-war democratic or societal (neo-) corporatism. In fact, the project will address issues closely related to the functioning of political and economic institutions and will address wider problems related to economic performance, growth and integration in twentieth century Europe. Though the attention given to the study of Portuguese historical experience will be paramount, the main purpose in mind is to provide the grounds for the development of a truly international research agenda.

Given the ample set of issues to be addressed, the project encompasses the intellectual interests and motivations, not only of economic historians and historians of economics, but also of a broader group of general historians, sociologists and political scientists alike. Without renouncing the use of a technical language and analytical tools from both economics and political science, the outcome of the project will attempt to meet the interests of a wider public concerned with the historical developments within the social sciences in general.

This research project will offer new arguments showing the relevance of both the inter-war corporatist experiments and the post-war neo-corporatist reflections, not only for a better understanding of the development and spread of economic ideas, analyses and policies during those periods, but also to explain how different political regimes may accommodate and make use of notions and concepts with a much broader meaning and scope. With this purpose in mind, special emphasis will be given to those notions put forward with the twofold objective of avoiding social conflict and achieving social harmony.

Among such founding ideas incorporated into the corporatist discourse, one can find a number of notions and moral precepts that were to become central tenets of 20th-century corporatism (both authoritarian and democratic), namely organic harmony and cohesion, social regeneration, mutuality, solidarity, justice, willing consent, spontaneous fellowship, etc. The implementation of these principles has required the creation, restoration and strengthening of those institutions considered crucial for generating the spirit of social homogeneity, loyalty and national pride, such as the family unit, the school, local associations, corporate groupings, the workplace, the church and the State.

On the whole, these principles and institutions may be considered as the pillars of a model of social organisation, different from both liberalism and socialism, which represented the main target in the battle waged by corporatist supporters in the interwar period and by neo-corporatists after the war, especially from the late 1960s onwards.

It is also worth pointing out that the study of both authoritarian and democratic corporatism calls for a different way of looking at the factors and conditions for economic growth.

The project will reconstruct the historical origins and roots of the corporatist movement and survey both the triumphant and the unsuccessful experiments that took place in several European countries. It will also provide a lengthy discussion of the critical dialogues and mutual appraisal occurring between corporatism and other schools of economic thought, such as neoclassical and Keynesian economics.

Special emphasis will be given to the presentation of the different arguments presented about the State's place in the economic order and the various forms of its intervention. In fact, the corporatist debate serves as an excellent pretext for a broader discussion of economic policy issues, such as: the way in which political structures adapt themselves and provide institutional conditions for the promotion of sustainable economic growth and social change; the social and political limits preventing the adoption of full employment commitments, labour regulations and income redistribution policies; the shortcomings arising from training, educational, health and other social policies left to the contingencies of the market or assigned to the responsibility of State bureaucracies; the role of social partnership in building up social cohesion at both the national and international level.

 

Objectivos: 
.
State of the art: 
The current use of the term corporatism in present or recent times corresponds to the appearance of a new variation of a conceptual structure generally labelled as democratic, liberal, societal or simply neo- corporatism (see Schmitter 1974, Pryor 1988 and Williamson 1989). Several relevant approaches to this subject emphasise the pervasive nature of the coalition and organisation of interests that remain a central issue in the social and political structure of contemporary society (see Cawson 1985, Grant 1985 and Newman 1981). One further aspect deserving attention is the association of corporatism with the raising of professional groups and their impact on the balance of power (see Perkin 1989). To understand both the achievements and the potential results of neo-corporatist theories, one also has to take into account one of its main difficulties, namely its controversial acceptance in countries with a liberal political culture and tradition, where corporatism is hardly differentiated from a conception of the social order as being naturally hierarchical and receptive to authoritarian forms of political life (see Kaplan and Minard 2004). However, those who try to draw a fundamental distinction between present-day democratic corporatism and its authoritarian, non-democratic connotations cannot erase the traces that were left by its original creators in several European countries in the interwar period. Therefore, it is also the aim of this project to interact with studies of totalitarianism and modernism in twentieth-century Europe, as is the case with Roger Griffin's work, whose approach to fascism stresses its attempt to shape the modern world and to create a culture of society which was supposed to have an impact on every sphere of social life, a transformation embodied in the project of creating a ´new man´ (Griffin 2007). The realm of the history of ideas is particular relevant in this context of analysis, given the need for a broader approach to the processes of circulation and diffusion of doctrines across nations subject to different political regimes. The example offered by the flow of economic ideas has received important contributions (Hall 1989), which allow for a contextualization of corporatism as a movement of ideas balancing between different visions on the functioning and transformation of economic reality. The economic history of the twentieth century period provides another set of useful contributions to the study of corporatism and its aftermath. We owe much of what we know about the history of the European economy to interpretations based on the combination of national economic histories, and there are still many insights to be gained with such approach (Milward 1992). However, recent developments on European economic history also claim that it is impossible to study historical trends without crossing borders and trespassing disciplinary boundaries (see Crafts and Toniolo 1996, Eichengreen 2007 and Broadberry and O'Rourke 2009). The focus on corporatism may shed new light into the institutional setting and political conditions associated to economic performance and growth trends (Matis 2003). While this project claims for the innovative features of the research outcome to be reached, most of the members of the research team have previously contributed to the study of this subject-matter. José Luís Cardoso (IR, coordinator) has published several articles in relevant journals in the fields of the history of economic and social thought, dealing with issues particularly meaningful for the current research project. The philosophical and sociological implications of the notion of homo corporativus, in contrast with the conventionally accepted notion of economic agency put forward by mainstream neoclassical economic theory, are discussed in Cardoso 2006. The attempts of corporatist authors to build up a new theory of the firm and a new price theory, which was rapidly condemned to failure, are presented in Cardoso 2004. The implementation of social policies throughout the inter- and postwar periods, in close articulation with the corporatist ideology of social harmony and social order, is the key topic analyzed in Cardoso 2003. The global vision on state intervention and the specific economic policies encouraged by corporatist authors are the main issues covered in Cardoso 2005. Though focusing on the Portuguese case, or taking the Portuguese experience as a starting point, all these contributions pay also due attention to an European comparative approach that enlarges the scope of the study of corporatist doctrines and policies. These contributions are also the consequence of collaborative research projects participated by other members of the research team. Pedro Lains (core element of the research team) has published on themes related to European economic performance, in the fields of convergence on national incomes across time, free trade in the nineteenth century, agriculture and economic development in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Lains 2007 and 2008) and more recently on the rise of public finances in nineteenth century (Cardoso and Lains 2009) and the evolution of the European economy since 1945. António Costa Pinto (also core element of the research team) has written on the relations between corporatism and fascism, both as a central element of the ideological alternatives to democracy in Interwar Portugal, and Europe (Pinto 2000) and on Salazarism and corporatist institutions in a comparative perspective (Pinto 1995). More recently he co-edited a prosopographic study on the members of the Portuguese Corporatist Chamber, a starting point for a study on the role of this political institution in the authoritarian political system (Pinto and Cruz 2004).Other members of the research team have also published relevant contributions to the project's subject matter, namely Almodovar 2008, Amaral 1996, Ferreira 2007 and Silva 2009.
Parceria: 
Unintegrated
Luciano Amaral
António Almodovar
Carlos Bastien
Nuno Estêvão Ferreira
José Álvaro Ferreira da Silva
Tiago Luís de Matos Roma Fernandes
Victor César Pereira da Silva
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/02/2010
End Date: 
31/07/2013
Duração: 
42 meses
Closed