Social Customs and Trade Union Membership: A Multi-Level Analysis of Workplace Union Density Using Micro-Data – University of Copenhagen

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21 August 2017

Social Customs and Trade Union Membership: A Multi-Level Analysis of Workplace Union Density Using Micro-Data

Together with their colleague Daniel Sparwath Jensen, Associate Professor Christian Lyhne and Research Assistant Jonas Toubøl from FAOS - Employment Relations Research Centre has contributed to the European Sociological Review with their article 'Social Customs and Trade Union Membership: A Multi-Level Analysis of Workplace Union Density Using Micro-Data'.

In their article, they investigate the effect of social customs on one of the most important instances of collective action, namely, workers uniting in trade unions. Although many studies have used social custom theory to explain unionization, existing studies have not adequately analysed social customs at the workplace. Using workplace union density as a proxy for social custom, the argument will be that the analysis improves existing studies in a number of ways. First, multi-level analyses of a large panel data set from Denmark reveal that there is a significant positive effect of workplace union density on the probability that new employees join unions. Secondly, using nonparametric regression, they find that the functional form of the relationship between the two variables is accelerating. These results hold for various subsamples. The accelerating functional form indicates that large initial investments in unionization are required to create self-sustaining social customs for union membership. Thirdly, they test the acceleration using segmented regression analysis and find a significant acceleration around 45–65 per cent workplace union density. In the conclusion, Christian Lyhne Ibsen, Jonas Toubøl and Daniel Sparwath Jensen discuss the implications of their study for unionization strategies and for research on unionization.

Christian Lyhne Ibsen, Jonas Toubøl and Daniel Sparwath Jensen, Social Customs and Trade Union Membership: A Multi-Level Analysis of Workplace Union Density Using Micro-Data, European Sociological Review, Vol. 33, Issue 4, 2017.