The end of the social pact in Europe (1981–2008)

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Between 1980—during the 'double dip' crisis—and 2008, the European social pact, born of the armed and revolutionary defeat (in part of the countries) of Nazi fascism, ended. In exchange for disarmament and the end of the revolutionary struggle, in 1945–47, a specific form of counter-revolution was designed in Europe, outlined in Yalta and Postdam, which erected the European Welfare State and full employment in 1945–47 in exchange for workers abdicate from the struggle for power. In this article, we argue that this period –known as 'European social pact'—began to break down with the anti-cyclical measures of 1980, which opened doors to the generalisation of precarious work to new generations, after the defeat and/or cooptation of the main unions, from 1986, before the fall of the USSR. Precariousness that after the anti-cyclical measures of 2008 extended to almost the entire working population in Europe, subject to increasingly intense, brutal and precarious working conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-401
Number of pages23
JournalCritique (United Kingdom)
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • 1982 Crisis
  • European Social Pact
  • Precariousness
  • State
  • Trade Unions


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