Coopting change toward industrial democracy: Professionals as agents of structural constraint

Asaf Darr, Robert N. Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper asks why the democratic election of leaders, which is so fundamental an institution in much of Western society, is held sacred in the political sector of social life but rejected in the economic one. We propose that democracy stops at the factory gates partly because of the practices and ideologies of practice of the professionals who construct and maintain the boundaries between the workplace and the larger political sphere. Specifically, we compare the role of lawyers, accountants, and academics in situations where workers attempt to implement or maintain a democratic governance structure in the workplace, within a socialist and a capitalist economic order. We conclude that professionals act as cooptation agents for democratic ideas in both the capitalist and the socialist context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-194
Number of pages24
JournalSociological Inquiry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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