The European Social Dialogue in Perspective: Its future potential as an autopoietic system and lessons from the global maritime system of industrial relations

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


There are three starting points for this thesis. First, there is the system of ESD, which is criticised for lacking capacity to improve the working conditions within the EU. Secondly, there is the system developed through the global ITF FOC campaign, which is considered to have capacity to improve working conditions for seafarers at a global level. Thirdly, there is the theory on self-referential autopoietic systems, which is a useful tool for analysing systems of industrial relations and their functions. The purpose of this thesis is to deepen the understanding of the function of the ESD in relation to the development of EU legislation and policy with the aim of trying to find a model for providing a holistic analysis of regulatory systems for the labour market. The research questions are: ‘How can the significant differences and similarities between the ESD and the global ITF FOC campaign be understood?’ and ‘Why is the ESD generally regarded as lacking the capacity needed for producing results that improve working conditions, while the ITF FOC is considered to have such capacity?’ The theoretical framework used for the analysis is Luhmann’s theory on autopoietic systems. Since the thesis has a normative core I have applied a methodological model that consists of a two-layer analysis at both the empirical and theoretical level. Firstly an analysis of positivistic values has been carried out and secondly an analysis of hermeneutic values. The empirical material consists of documents and texts that can be considered part of or reflecting the communication of the studied systems. The main conclusion is that whereas the ITF FOC system is a traditional system of industrial relations based on the binary code of negotiable or non-negotiable between collective actors the ESD is a system of industrial relations based on a less clear binary code of discussable or non-discussable. The ESD is also subject to less developed communicative structures that negatively affect the system’s capacity both to produce results and to secure the efficient implementation and application of these results. This makes the ESD as a system more sensitive to hermeneutic values framing the programming of structurally coupled systems causing difficulties for the ESD to challenge such hermeneutic values.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Social Sciences


  • European social dialogue, ITF FOC campaign, EU labour rights, autopoietic systems, collective bargaining, EU social policy, international industrial relations, social objectives of the EU
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • Eva Schömer, Supervisor
  • Reza Banakar, Supervisor
Award date2017 Sep 15
Place of PublicationLund
Print ISBNs978-91-7753-275-0
Electronic ISBNs978-91-7753-276-7
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2017-09-15 Time: 13:00 Place: Stora Algatan, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Lemann Kristiansen, Bettina Title: Professor Affiliation: Aarhus Universitet, Denmark ---

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Related research output

Ann-Christine Hartzén, 2019, Lavalgenerationen - 2010-talets doktorsavhandlingar i arbetsrätt. Selberg, N. & Sjödin, E. (eds.). Uppsala: Iustus förlag, p. 189-204

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

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