The persistence of, and challenges to, societal effects in the context of global competition
in Making work more equal

This chapter revisits societal analysis, which has played an important role in questioning universalist thinking on work, organization and labour markets. It examines challenges to societal analysis arising from the transnationalisation of productive capital, and the dynamics of regime competition that have ensued at national and more local levels. We argue that it is important to retain an emphasis on the mutual interdependencies shaping the social construction of labour markets. At the same time, it is necessary to give greater emphasis to the ways that, within ‘variegated’ neoliberal capitalism, the dynamics of competitiveness both depend on, but also challenge, relatively coherent ‘societal’ fixes as to the nature of socio-productive systems. In particular, we will focus on how societal institutionalism can inform an analysis of the ‘societal’ embeddedness of international firms which engage in regime competition. In this context, we argue that a comparative institutionalist approach to transnational capitalism needs to interrogate societal embeddedness in its original Polanyian sense of the overall coherence of the means of organising the economy within society. Societal research, if pursued in a geographically open and actor-sensitive manner, can make a key contribution to this endeavour by accessing the relations between societal spheres and their interlockages.

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Making work more equal

A new labour market segmentation approach

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