For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Democratic Rights in the Workplace"

by Schaff, Kory P (2012)


In this paper, I pursue the question whether extending democratic rights to work is good in the broadest possible sense of that term: good for workers, firms, market economies, and democratic states. The argument makes two assumptions in a broadly consequentialist framework. First, the configuration of any relationship among persons in which there is less rather than more coercion makes individuals better off. Second, extending democratic rights to work will entail costs and benefits to both the power and authority of employers and meaningful work for employees. These costs and benefits cannot be determined in advance because they are largely empirical, but there are still good reasons for expanding worker participation all-things-considered. First, I examine the parallel case for extending democratic rights to the workplace based on several similarities between politics and work organization. In addition, I consider the objections from voluntariness and efficiency. Although both objections raise interesting problems I believe that a properly formulated conception of democratic workplaces can answer them. In the final section, I sketch a minimal conception of these rights at the level of the firm that does not require a large-scale transformation of the market economy.

Key Passage



Schaff, Democratic Rights, Workplace Democracy, Parallel Case, Meaningful Work


Workplace Democracy

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