Paving the way for the Class Compromise: Constructing Consensus Identity in the Early Swedish Trade Union
2009 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Most research on the Basic Agreement between the LO and the SAF that was closed in Saltsjöbaden in 1938 has dealt with the elites of the organizations and their road towards consensus and cooperation. I claim that the success of the agreement cannot be fully understood without integrating the grass roots in the analysis, an aspect that has been largely ignored. The grass roots could easily have overthrown the agreement through strikes but instead the Agreement gained support among the members. I argue that the LO constructed a collective identity compatible with this new relationship to capital, and by doing that the organization could implement the consensus spirit on the grass root level and discipline the members. A systematic in-depth analysis of the trade union educational material clearly shows that the LO constructed an identity of the organization that mirrored the new relation between labour and capital. The trade union member was a true reformist person that put a lot of value in following rules adopted democratically by the organization and the LO was a constantly growing politically important force. The employers were depicted as close friends to the workers while the political right because of their attempts to meddle in the labour market through legislation was an enemy. Another enemy was the SAC, the syndicalists that were demonized as irresponsible and irrational, an organization without clear goals; the SAC was everything the LO was not. The Basic Agreement and the identity politics pursued by the LO are not only important components for explaining the development of the Swedish model, they also reflect the formation of the Swedish labour movement into one strong, centralized, cohesive actor that came to play an important role in the development of the Swedish welfare state.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. -34 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-140209OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-140209DiVA: diva2:383237
Arbetarrörelsens Forskarnätverks konferens i Stockholm 8-9 maj 2009.