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Union Democracy

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Title: Union Democracy  
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Subject: Union dues, Gary Chaison, Change to Win Federation, Trade unions, Syndicalism
Collection: 1956 Books, Books About Labor History, Communications Workers of America, Political Science Books, Sociology Books
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Union Democracy

Union Democracy
Authors Seymour Martin Lipset, Martin Trow, and James Samuel Coleman
Published 1956 (Free Press)
Pages 455

Union Democracy: The Internal Politics of the International Typographical Union is a book by Seymour Martin Lipset, Martin Trow and James S. Coleman, originally published by New York Free Press in 1956.


  • Overview 1
  • See also 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The book addresses the factors that influence the socialist parties and trade unions).[1]

The book is a Robert K. Merton, who encouraged him to develop those ideas into an article, and later, a book, a task that Lipset approached with the help of two other researchers, Martin Trow and James S. Coleman. In the course of his research Lipset and others interviewed over 400 members of the ITU.[2]

Lipset, Trow and Coleman largely agree with Michels that there are oligarchical bureaucratic tendencies in all organizations. They point to several factors that made ITU different from most other unions—and organizations—and thus able to defy the iron law. They noted that unlike most of such organizations, ITU was founded by a group of local unions valuing their autonomy. The existence of factions within the democratic structure (elections) of the union prevented leaders from becoming too corrupt, as each faction was always willing to expose the misdoings of another. They also point out that similarity between background of members (most of them coming from middle class) further encouraged democratic decision making processes.[3]

One of the conclusions of Lipset, Trow and Coleman research was that behaviour of individuals could be related to the qualities of local environments (groups) and their leaders.[2]

The book was and still is widely

  • Union Democracy by George Strauss, 1991

External links

  • Seymour Martin Lipset, Martin Trow and James S. Coleman, Union Democracy: The Internal Politics of the International Typographical Union, New York, Free Press, 1956, ISBN 0-02-919210-2
  • Lucio Baccaro, "Union Democracy Revisited: Decision-Making Procedures in the Italian Labour Movement," Economic and Industrial Democracy. 2001; 22: 183-210
  • Harry H. Wellington, Union Democracy and Fair Representation: Federal Responsibility in a Federal System, Yale Law Journal, Vol. 67, No. 8 (Jul., 1958), pp. 1327–1362
  • S. Hix, Elections, Parties and Institutional Design: A Comparative Perspective on European Union Democracy, West European Politics, 1998, Vol. 21; Number 3, pages 19–52
Further reading
  • Citation Classics Commentary on Union Democracy PDF (254 KiB), Seymour Martin Lipset, 20/1988. Last accessed on 16 September 2006
  • Lipset's Union Democracy After 40 Years, Michael Goldfield, 1998. Last accessed on 16 September 2006.
  • Michels, Robert. 1915. Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy. Translated into English by Eden Paul and Cedar Paul. New York: The Free Press. From the 1911 German source.


  1. ^ (Lipset 1988, Michels 1915)
  2. ^ a b c (Lipset 1988)
  3. ^ (Goldfield 1998)


See also


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