Employment Relations and the State in Southeast Asia

03 January 2017

This article engages critically with the comparative employment relations literature, assessing its capacity to explain and analyse the relationship between state objectives – accumulation, pacification, legitimation – and employment relations. Having engaged with approaches that have influenced the discipline in recent decades, it draws on insights from capitalist Southeast Asia to identify determining factors not accounted for in comparative employment relations models developed from and applied to the Global North. These include the relatively high degree of fluidity in forms of governance characteristic of contexts where there is a dynamic interplay between democratic and authoritarian rule, which challenges the assumption that employment relations are underpinned by a relatively strong, stable and autonomous state. Equally significant is the impact of interstate and international interests and influences, only some of which are economic, on the balance between different state objectives as they pertain to employment relations.