Bo Stråth


Bo Stråth (Curriculum Vitae) was 2007-2014 Finnish Academy Distinguished Professor in Nordic, European and World History and Director of Research at the Department of World Cultures / Centre of Nordic Studies (CENS), University of Helsinki. 1997-2007 he was Professor of Contemporary History at the European University Institute in Florence, and 1991-1996 Professor in History at the University of Gothenburg. He is a member of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

After Full Employment

by | Oct 1, 1999 | Seminars and Discussion Groups, Curriculum vitae

After Full Employment: European Norms and Discourses of Work

An interdisciplinary seminar in cooperation between Robert Schuman Centre, Department of Law and Department of History

Karl Klare, Silvana Sciarra and Bo Stråth

Autumn/Winter 1998

Wednesdays at 11am Sala Triaria

The point of departure of this seminar is the major shift in the view on work which has occurred since the 1970s. The language of flexibility, deregulation and globalisation tries to cope with this change but hardly does so exhaustively, as little as the continued invocation of full employment does.

The transformation of the view on work cannot be understood only as a narrow shift of discourse in economics from one paradigm („full employment) to another („flexibility“). Other disciplinary approaches must be involved, too. Furthermore, to provide a richer and more comprehensive view of the ongoing change, norms, legislation and discourses on work must be seen in a much longer historical perspective than the period since the 1970s. It is the intention of the seminar to develop this long-term view.

The aim of the seminar is to relate the new language – as it is expressed in politics, legislation, and social and economic sciences – to questions about social identity, social norms and social protection. The focus is on the normative and legislative transformation of the view on work.

A major interest will be to discern various European patterns in discourses, norms and legislation on work and – given this variety – to discuss whether a European level is feasible. The point of reference for such a European level will be the USA where the whole flexibility and deregulation language began and seems to have been implemented differently.

The seminar, therefore, addresses historical issues and questions of legal comparison. The US as a federal system and the European Union as a quasi-federal one are good examples, albeit in very different ways, of systems with multiple sovereigns, whereby law-making power is divided between multiple and overlapping sovereigns. When discussing labour law measures, the main question is the possible intersection of deregulation with either excessive centralisation or downward devolution. The discussion among labour lawyers is how to ascertain the role of social rules, which are not simply functional to market efficiency, but also reflect national traditions in supportive and protective legislation.

The three seminar leaders will act as discussants in all sessions. Active participation from research students from law and history departments is expected. Of course, also students from other departments are very welcome. Reading materials will be provided at the beginning of the seminar. Participation in the second-term seminar, organised by professors Stråth and Sciarra, will be welcome for those who intend to focus on the issues in question. The second term seminar is considered a continuation of the first term.

7 October
Karl Klare (Visiting Fulbright Professor, Law Department)
Federal and State law in the US. Thinking critically and historically about work and law

14 October
Silvana Sciarra
Tracing the origins of European social policies: from Rome to Amsterdam

21 October
Robert Salais, Ecole Normale Superioeure de Cachan
Discerning a European level of labour market coordination

28 October
Bo Stråth
The concept of work historically in social and economic theory building

4 November
Silvana Sciarra
The title on employment in the Treaty of Amsterdam: new measures and old doubts

11 November
Karl Klare
Beyond collective bargaining. New forms of collective representation and identity

18 November
Bo Stråth
The flexibility discourse in European comparison

25 November
Willibald Steinmetz (University of Bochum)
Meeting at court: Senses of justice and conflict. Attitudes among English Employers and Employees, 1850s-1920s

2 December
Silvana Sciarra
Multi-level policy making. The role of legal and voluntary sources and the powers of the social partners in shaping the notion of work at a European level

9 December
Karl Klare
Multi-level Policymaking. The role of legal and voluntary sources and the powers of the social partners in shaping the notion of work in the US

Beyond Flexibility: A Legal and Historical Analysis of Labour Regulations

An interdisciplinary seminar in cooperation between Robert Schuman Centre, Department of Law and Department of History

Professor Silvana Sciarra & Professor Bo Stråth

Spring Semester 1999

Wednesdays 11 – 13.00 (Starts 13 January) Sala Triaria

Flexibility has become a word used in many circles with different connotations.

This seminar will aim at analysing different meanings of flexibility related to work: organisation of work, protection of workers and attitudes of political and social partners towards it. The analysis will be centred on some European countries and will have a historical perspective. It will try to deconstruct this wide and often vague notion to discover its concrete meanings in legal and historical terms.

The debate at the Community level is also full of insights: not only is flexibility the leading policy indication in most documents and acts of the institutions in the social field it also seems to be at the core of macroeconomic policies, which directly affect social policies and labour standards. The historical analysis will show whether globalisation has meant dis-embedding social rights from their cultural and local traditions and whether fundamental principles of a new kind are emerging at a supra-national level.

This seminar is a continuation of the autumn semester seminar in 1998

Visitors in this seminar will be, among others:

Prof. A. Supiot, The future of work. Discussion on a Report for the European Commission

Prof. M. Rodriguez-Pinero, Recent reforms in Spanish labour law: how to combine social protection with market efficiency

L. Gamet, A new flexibility in labour law? Recent reforms in France

13 January
Silvana Sciarra: The Emergence of Flexibilisation Discourses in Europe

20 January
Bo Stråth: The Embeddedness of the Market in the Social

27 January
Laurent Gamet: Eléments d’une définition en droit du travail du terme “flexibilité”

3 February
Stefano Giubboni: Flexibility in the Italian Social Security Protection System: some Reflections

10 February
Alain Supiot (University of Nantes): The Commission Report on Transformation of Labour and Future of Labour Law in Europe

17 February
Bo Stråth: Visions of Monetary Union and Labour Market Policies: an Evolving Problematic since the 1970s

24 February
M. Rodrigues-Pinero: The regulation of the labour market in Spain: the case of temporary employment agencies

3 March
Silvana Sciarra: The End of a Public Monopoly: Flexibility in the Italian Placement System

10 March
Karl Klare (Northeastern University): The Emergence of Flexibility in the USA

A sandwich lunch will be organised for the seminar participants in Sala Bandiere after Professor Klare’s seminar before the next seminar on this day, which also will be the last one in this seminar series, between 14.30 and 16.30:

10 March: 14.30:
Fred Block (University of California at Davis): Postindustrial Possibilities: A Critique of Economic Discourses

The seminars 1998-1999 accompanied the work on the edited volume After Full Employment.


  • Monographs
  • Anthologies
Creating Community and Ordering the World
A European Memory
A European Memory?
European Solidarities
European Solidarities
Reflections on Europe
Reflections on Europe
The Economy as a Polity
The Economy As a Polity
A European Social Citizenship
A European Social Citizenship?
Representations of Europe and the Nation in Current and Prospective Member States
States and Citizens History Theory Prospects
States and Citizens
The Meaning of Europe
The Meaning of Europe
From the Werner Plan to the EMU
From the Werner Plan to the EMU
Europe and the Other and Europe as the Other
Europe and the Other and Europe as the Other
Myth and Memory in the Construction of Community
Myth and Memory in the Construction of Community
AFTER FULL EMPLOYMENT European Discources on Work and Flexibility
After Full Employment
Enlightenment and Genocide Contradictions of Modernity
Enlightenment and Genocide, Contradictions of Modernity
Department of History and Civilization Nationalism and Modernity EUI Working Papers
Nationalism and Modernity
The Postmodern Challenge Perspectives East and West
The Postmodern Challenge
The Cultural Construction of Norden
The Cultural Construction of Norden
Comparativ Wohnungsbau im Internationalen Vergleich Heft 3-1996
Wohnungsbau im internationalen Vergleich
Language and the Construction of Class Identities
Language and the Construction of Class Identities
Idylle oder Aufbruch
Idylle oder Aufbruch?
Democratisation in Scandinavia in Comparison