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The Political Economy of the Service Transition$
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Anne Wren

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657285

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657285.001.0001

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Introduction: The Political Economy of Post-Industrial Societies

Introduction: The Political Economy of Post-Industrial Societies

(p.1) 1 Introduction: The Political Economy of Post-Industrial Societies
The Political Economy of the Service Transition

Anne Wren

Oxford University Press

This introductory chapter offers a new agenda for research in political economy centered on the transformation of advanced capitalist democracies from industrial to services-based economies. It introduces the research questions which form the core of this agenda and the central themes of the volume; explains what the existing political economy literature can and cannot tell us about these questions; and outlines (based on the analysis in the volume) the principal economic and political characteristics of a set of alternative models of service sector development, which can provide a framework for future analyses of the political economy of service societies. In particular, it outlines a set of arguments about the ways in which the institutional configurations of existing socioeconomic regimes (or “varieties of capitalism”) influence their service sector development trajectories, and examines some of the economic, distributional, and political implications of the pursuit of alternative paths to service sector development (e.g., the rate of service employment creation, and the types of service sector jobs which are created, patterns of inequality, rates of labor force participation, the distribution of political preferences over policy among different labor market groups, patterns of political coalition formation, and partisan electoral outcomes). It concludes by reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of alternative service sector development models (some of which have been highlighted by the recent financial crisis), which have implications for the long-term economic and political sustainability of these regimes.

Keywords:   service economy, service society, service sector politics, post-industrial society, socioeconomic regimes, varieties of capitalism, service employment, inequality, political preferences, political coalitions

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