Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Philippe C. Schmitter
Corporatism is an idea that has been present in political and social life for at least 9 to 10 centuries. Its origins are indisputably European and related to differing conceptions of how the Roman Catholic Church and medieval cities should be governed. Its popularity, however, has had an erratic fate—both as a practice in political life and as a concept in political theory. It has been heralded as a novel and promising way of ensuring harmony between conflicting social groups, and it has also been condemned as a reactionary and antidemocratic formula for suppressing the demands of autonomous associations and movements. In other words, corporatism has always been politically controversial and conceptually ambiguous. There is no better evidence for this than the frequency with which it is so often preceded by contradictory qualifying adjectives or prefixes: state or societal, liberal or authoritarian, archeo- or neo-, Catholic or secular, macro- or ...