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- as in Spain under Franco and more generally in association with FASCISM, the state control of major ‘corporations’ (e.g. labour organizations), with the aim of removing or suppressing social conflict, fostering nationalism, etc.
- relations between government and key interest groups (see PRESSURE GROUPS), especially big business and TRADE UNIONS, involving:
- intermediation – bodies standing between the state and the individual citizen negotiate agreements with the government on behalf of their members (e.g. agreements on wages and prices);
- incorporation – the possession of a special status by these organizations (e.g. in the UK the CBI or the TUC), so that, in some respects, they become virtual extensions of government, what Middlemas, Politics in an Industrial Society, (1979) calls ‘governing institutions’. The UK is often regarded as having moved in a corporatist direction in this second sense in the period 1960 to 1979, a tendency which was reversed with the election of the Thatcher government in 1979. Modern Austria is some times advanced as a more fully developed example of corporatism in sense 2 , characterized by features lacking in the UK, including wide social agreement on the value of social partnership, compulsory membership of trade unions and employers organizations, and effective cooperation between capital and labour.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000