Democracy at Work: Contract, Status and Post-Industrial Justice

Ruth Dukes and Wolfgang Streeck

January 02, 2023

MPIfG Book


Cambridge: Polity, 2023
180 pages
ISBN 978-1-509-54898-9 (hardback)
ISBN 978-1-509-54899-6 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-509-54900-9 (ebook)

» Publisher’s page


In the countries of the global North, workplace democracy may be thought of as a thing of the past. Increasingly, working relations are regulated primarily by contract; workforces are fissured and fragmented. What are the consequences of this? How should we respond?

Ruth Dukes and Wolfgang Streeck argue that the time is ripe to restate the principles of industrial democracy and citizenship for the post-industrial era. Considering developments within political economy, employment relations and labour law since the postwar decades, they trace the rise of globalization and the “dualization” of labour markets – the emergence of a core and periphery of workers – and the progressive insulation of working relations from democratic governance. What these developments amount to, they argue, is an urgent need for political intervention to tame the new world of “gigging” and other forms of highly precarious work. This, according to the authors, will require far-reaching institution-building designed to fill legal concepts such as ‘employment’ with political substance.

This eloquent call for a reimagining and renewal of the institutional and material conditions of freedom of association and the reinvention of industrial democracy will be crucial reading for anyone interested in work in the twenty-first century.



1. Introduction

2. Justice, Productivity and Power at Work

3. The Rise and Fall of Industrial Citizenship

4. Liberalization as Emancipation?

5. Post-Industrial Justice?


Ruth Dukes

Ruth Dukes is Professor of Labour Law at the University of Glasgow.

Wolfgang Streeck

Wolfgang Streeck is Director Emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne.


“Advanced economies are faced with changing forms of work that depart more and more from the employment contract model. We have empirical evidence on all sorts of aspects and problems related to them but still lack the conceptual tools that can guide the analysis and enable a clearer public debate. This book by Dukes and Streeck is a timely rescue that lucidly updates the frameworks of labour law and of social theory to today's challenges around work.”
Guglielmo Meardi, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence

Democracy at Work provides a compelling analysis of the past and future of employment relations and of the attempts to regulate them, building on classic thinkers of the past to analyse the consequences of digitalization, liberalization and globalization. Professors Dukes and Streeck have produced a work of outstanding depth and scope that will be essential reading for anyone interested in labour law, employment and the future of work.”
Alexandre Afonso, Leiden University

Other Interesting Articles

Go to Editor View