Year

2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Law

Abstract

The end of the post-World War II ‘long boom’ in the mid-1970s proved the beginning of a process of political-economic change that has fundamentally transformed Australian labour law. Given the centrality of labour law to the production/reproduction of the commodity labour-power and the class struggle, the dramatic changes in labour law are a matter of tremendous importance, particularly for organised labour, which has found itself operating in an ever more hostile legal climate. However, the nature of labour law change in Australia remains poorly theorised. The traditional disciplines of labour law and industrial relations are primarily beholden to empiricist methods, whilst work on Australian political economy has typically paid scant attention to the issue of law beyond the descriptive account that neoliberalism has been associated with legal change. The result is a lack of a theoretically rigorous account of the evolution of Australian labour law.

It is in to this lacuna that this thesis steps. Utilising the methodology of the Parisian Regulation Approach (PRA), I periodise Australian capitalism since World War II into two models of development, which are historically specific crystallisations of capitalist social relations unifying an industrial paradigm, accumulation regime and mode of regulation. The ability of the PRA to explain the role of a labour law regime within these models of development is crucially buttressed by its synthesis with a Marxist jurisprudence I have constructed, drawing upon the best work of scholars in this field. In particular, I argue that law is best conceived as a juridic form of capitalist production and exchange relations, rather than as a fundamentally a-capitalist institution determined by an economic base. Such a construction allows us to appreciate that law not only performs certain functions within a model of development, but also helps constitute its physiology and character.

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