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Korean Labour Relations in Transition: Authoritarian Flexibility?

Chang, Dae-Oup (2002) 'Korean Labour Relations in Transition: Authoritarian Flexibility?' Labour, Capital and Society, 35 (1). pp. 10-40.

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Abstract

The aim of this article is to examine changes in Korean labour relations before and after the economic crisis. In doing so, we are looking at various flexible methods of human resource management introduced both at the national and workplace level. Capital and the state had to face very challenging ten-year from the emergence of highly politicized ‘democratic trade unions movement’ in 1987. It was after the economic crisis that the capitalist state and individual capitalists eventually regained their effective control over labour by introducing more marketized labour control, i.e. the flexible labour market and competition-based human resource management that enabled individual capitalists to effectively dilute the militancy of unions at the workplace. A case study on labour relations in Hyundai Motors Car shows the impact of this transformation on workers and the democratic trade union movement. The new form of labour relations is based not merely on coercive control over labour by the state but fundamentally on the more ‘voluntary’ subordination of individual workers to individual capitals. However, the marketisation of labour relations on the basis of the flexible labour market seems to have a double nature. In an attempt to institutionalize the flexible labour market, the state has been playing a double role, integrating labour unions into corporatist body, such as Tripartite Commission, on the one hand, and utilizing old-fashioned authoritarian measures against any violation of the rule of the flexible labour market, on the other.

Item Type: Articles
Keywords: Labour relations, flexible labour, insecurity of labour, authoritarian state
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Development Studies
ISSN: 07061706
Copyright Statement: Copyright Labour, Capital and Society
Depositing User: Dae-Oup Chang
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2009 15:25
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/7017

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