Inderscience Publishers

The Spirit Level, economic democracy and health inequalities

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Courtesy of Inderscience Publishers

'The Spirit Level' by Wilkinson and Pickett (2009) provides a serious critique of inequality and how it blights the lives of many people in high-income countries. Unfolding in two main sections, this paper initially outlines Wilkinson's thesis generally before focusing and initiating a debate on Wilkinson and Pickett's suggestion of economic democracy (increased employee control and participation) as a means to tackle inequality. The wider literature supports their assertion of the potential of economic democracy to do so. Two obstacles, employee's 'damaged' subjectivities and meaningful control, are subsequently identified as barriers, to realising meaningful economic democracy. A possible solution to these obstacles is provided by the work of Gardell (1982) on the AB Almex plant, where workers introduced a very robust form of economic democracy. The lessons from this period could prove instructive for any current or future debates on the relationships between equality, well-being and the workplace.

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