A review essay by David Ost, the Joseph DiGangi Professor of Political Science, appears in the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Comparative Politics.
One of the top-ranked international journals in Political Science, Comparative Politics publishes scholarly articles “devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and processes,” with the aim of passing along “new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, students, and public and NGO officials,” according to the Comparative Politics website.
Ost’s essay — “Does Neoliberalism Marginalize Labor or Reincorporate it — And Is There a Difference?” — reviews several books focusing on contemporary labor issues in a variety of countries from Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The books tell of the decline of labor’s power — due to attacks by business and states, facilitated by the ease of capital escape — as well as of unions’ efforts to retain influence. They also speak of new ways in which welfare states are configured in order to retain citizens’ loyalty.
The essay shows how neoliberalism is not just an attack on labor but an effort to reincorporate it without the collective rights of the past. Pushback against unions is accompanied by efforts to tie workers individually to the state, a policy aimed at promoting continued inequality while limiting the political damage. This could be the model of a new capitalist regulatory regime, bringing false stability and less democratic accountability.
A member of the political science faculty at HWS since 1986, Ost holds a bachelor’s degree from State University of New York at Stony Brook and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. His research focuses on labor and politics, democracy and capitalism, questions he has explored through a focus on the political economy of contemporary Europe.
Ost is also the author/editor of five books, including Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-Politics, Workers After Workers’ States, and The Defeat of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe. He has published more than 50 articles in scholarly books and journals, and is on the editorial boards of several journals in the U.S. and Europe. He lectures and presents papers frequently in Europe, and has been featured on the BBC, PBS, the “McNeil-Lehrer Report,” and a wide variety of media outlets in Poland.