Spectrum, trajectory and the role of the state in workers’ self-management

Martin Upchurch , Anne Daguerre, Daniel Ozarow

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article examines self-management in the wider context of political economy and the role of the state. Most literature focuses either on labour process analysis or on social movement aspects of the phenomenon. Most importantly, there appears less emphasis on understanding the role of the state in shaping or reshaping practice, or the state is even eschewed as an inevitably conservative and bureaucratic independent agent. In developing our understanding, we utilise documents from Titoist Yugoslavia, and surveys and case study interviews conducted in Argentina and Venezuela. First, we examine self-management in Titoist Yugoslavia in the aftermath of the Tito–Stalin split of 1948. Self-management was a central policy of the Titoist regime as it sought to distance itself from authoritarian and bureaucratic Communism. Indeed, Yugoslavia has been used as a comparator yardstick in recent discussions of other experiments such as those in Chávez's Venezuela. To pursue this comparison, and make more sense of the role of the state and the market, we examine the particularities of the new movements for self-management and cooperative working in the contemporary Latin American arc of protest against neoliberalism, focusing on both Argentina and Venezuela. The national specificities of each of these two countries are different, with the recovered companies having emerged ‘from below’ in Argentina contrasting with the movement ‘from above’ as part of Hugo Chávez' Bolivarian Revolution and ‘Twenty First Century Socialism’ in Venezuela. In our examples, we present a model of spectrum and trajectory from which self-management can be judged within a frame of socialist transformation. We record the contextual factors which shaped the movements, and isolate the state's influence to either promote or contain them. In our conclusion, we analyse factors of continuity and change, and discuss the state's role in relation to these different episodes of workers' self-management.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number55
    Pages (from-to)47-66
    Number of pages19
    JournalLabor History
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2013


    • Hugo Chávez' Bolivarian Revolution
    • Self-management
    • twenty first century socialism


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