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From the Webbs to the Web: The Contribution of the Internet to Reviving Union Fortunes


  • Richard B. Freeman


This paper shows that in the 2000s unions in the UK and US made innovative use of the Internet to deliver union services and move toward open source unions better suited for the modern world than traditional union structures. In contrast to analysts who see unions as being on an inexorable path of decline, I argue that these innovations are changing unions from institutions of the Webbs to institutions of the Web, which will improve their effectiveness and revive their role as the key worker organization in capitalism.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard B. Freeman, 2005. "From the Webbs to the Web: The Contribution of the Internet to Reviving Union Fortunes," NBER Working Papers 11298, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11298
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    Cited by:

    1. Barry T. Hirsch, 2008. "Sluggish Institutions in a Dynamic World: Can Unions and Industrial Competition Coexist?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 153-176, Winter.
    2. Bryson, Alex & Freeman, Richard B., 2006. "What voice do British workers want?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19850, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General

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