Decentralisation as a form of corporatism : the case of Nord-Pas-de-Calais

Budd, Leslie (1996). Decentralisation as a form of corporatism : the case of Nord-Pas-de-Calais. PhD thesis The Open University.



The world economy appears to have undergone profound changes since the end of the Second World War. Its regulatory nature has changed from being primarily national to become international. The "Golden Age", from the late 1940s to early 1970s, was based on a regime of accumulation and accompanying mode of regulation, commonly known as Fordism. At the heart of the mode of regulation in most European economies was the concept of corporatism, whereby economic and social interests were incorporated into some policy arena with the state. The stability conditions of Fordism, as a regime of accumulation, began to break down in the late 1960s. The national basis of economic regulation was weakened and the legitimacy of major components of the mode of regulation, like corporatism, undermined.

The ensuing changes in the world economy have been described as being part of the "new international division of labour". Essentially, technological changes offered the possibility production occurring around the globe without the constraints of time and space. The international economy took on the appearance of being global-local or international-regional. Consequently regions and localities attempted to develop a relative autonomy from the central state in making themselves attractive as sites across which international economic transactions would flow. In order to negotiate this autonomy and these transactions, local and regional interests are incorporating themselves into some policy arrangements with the local/regional state. Despite the demise of corporatism at a national level, it re-appears at a decentralised or devolved level as part of a mode or modes of regulation consistent with the new circumstances. What this research examines is the relationship between the decentralisation of state functions stemming from the decentralisation of production and corporatism. France and one of its largest regions was chosen to study because they represent an unpromising case because of the historical antipathy to corporatism. What is argued is that the historical lineage of corporatism is stronger than conventionally thought. Furthermore, the nature of neo-liberalism in France leads logically to corporatism. In the circumstances of the "new international division of labour" and the formal decentralisation of state powers and means of financing them in France, since 1982, regional interest groups have organised within a concerted framework with the recently empowered local/regional state. Therefore, the logic of these circumstances leads to the argument that decentralisation is a form of corporatism.

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