Weak Employees and Work Policies in Companies. Challenges and Operational Approaches of Company-Level Employee Representatives


Franziska Scheier’s doctoral project examines the role of company-level employee representatives by consideration of employees’ interests formerly neglected in work policies (weak employees), i.e. employees taking care of children or other family members, low-skilled or unskilled workers, severely handicapped persons, and apprentices.

This qualitative study, based on an examination of different company cases, analyses chances and conditions of weak employees to find consideration in representation. Having regard to the heterogeneous structure of employee representation on company level with works councils, representatives of severely handicapped persons, and youth and trainee representatives, it takes note particularly on the effects of selective perception and conditions for a successful access of weak employees’ concern to the policies.

In order to examine selective and integrative effects, this study operationalises an innovative theoretical approach with both the concept of representation (Sofsky/Paris 1991) and durable inequality (Tilly 1998). Moreover, to find a reliable explanation, an additional framework of representation was elaborated. This framework subdivides the process of representation into four levels: the level of access to representation, the level of considerations in decision-making process, the level of negotiation, and the level of enforcement.

Sofsky, W. & Paris, R. (1991): Stellvertretung. In: W. Sofsky & R. Paris (Eds.): Figurationen sozialer Macht. Autorität, Stellvertretung, Koalition (pp. 111-186). Opladen: Leske + Budrich

Tilly, C. (1998): Durable Inequality. Berkeley/Los Angeles/London: University of California Press