The politics of depoliticisation: reassessing the Industrial Relations Act 1971

Warner, Samuel J.L. (2018). The politics of depoliticisation: reassessing the Industrial Relations Act 1971. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis investigates the British state’s approach to industrial relations reform which culminated in the Industrial Relations Act 1971. It highlights the intention of state managers to reconfigure the relationship between the state, capital and labour. The Act represents an attempt to discipline the latter through a reliance on the ostensibly independent nature of the law, thus curtailing the militant tendencies associated with trade unions. While there is a large secondary literature on the Act, there is as yet no analysis based on the study of primary documents (Cabinet, Department of Employment, Prime Minister’s Office and Treasury). The central argument of the thesis is that, contrary to orthodoxy, the Act was adopted as a way of ‘depoliticising’ the management of industrial relations in an effort to shield government from the unpopular electoral consequences of reform. Drawing on an Open Marxist perspective that sees the state as a social form, the thesis uses the framework offered by the depoliticisation literature to consider not only why the Act failed, but also what inferences can be drawn regarding the fragility of this approach to governing. In this way, the thesis contributes to debates surrounding the limitations of depoliticised governing in capitalist society.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain


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