Political Movements of the Unemployed in the 1980s
There are a number of ways in which the situation in the 1980s differs from that of the 1920s and 1930s. Principal amongst these is the highly centralised character of the unemployment benefits system. In contrast to much of the inter-war period, decisionmaking over levels, forms and eligibility for benefits is carried out in centralised bureaucratic Ministries. Decisions by local offices are almost entirely circumscribed by detailed centrally determined criteria. Political influence over these issues works entirely through Parliament, national pressure groups or corporatist bodies. Locally, any political movements of the unemployed can only influence the levels of benefit for individuals within the legal criteria set down by central government. They cannot influence the levels and forms of relief for the unemployed of a whole locality as was the case to some extent in the past. The relationship between the unemployed and the state is much more individualised than in the past. Any attempts at the political organisation of the unemployed during the 1980s, then, take place in relation to a quite different state form.
KeywordsLocal Authority Collective Action Trade Union Labour Movement Management Committee
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