16-17 September 2021
Palazzo Strozzi
Europe/Rome timezone


Industrial Relations in Europe Conference 2021

Scuola Normale Superiore

Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 16-17 September 2021

Mixed format: 16 September online and 17 September in person (with streaming for online participants - see programme below)

The on-site conference will start with a reception and dinner at 6pm on the 16th; the fees include reception and dinner on the first day and lunch on the second. On-site participants should familiarise themselves with travel regulations to Italy and will be required to show a EU Green Pass.

The global Covid-19 pandemic has affected work in an unprecedented way. The International Labour Organisation in 2020 registered a 8.8% fall in worked hours globally, the largest fall on record. If it can be hoped that the contraction will only be temporary, the events of the last year have raised lasting questions on the way we think about work and industrial relations.

The state capacity to intervene rapidly and imperiously in the management of the economy questions the ideas of a state retreat and of unstoppable ‘neoliberal convergence’ (Baccaro and Howell 2017). Radical innovations in social security systems challenge the idea of institutional path dependency. The need for rapid and legitimate decisions about work has given new legitimation to the often dismissed instrument of social dialogue in many countries. At national level as well as in the EU, the established policy consensus on the nature of public debt has been revisited, and the Recovery Plan presents a number of employment policy opportunities. Constraints on movement in the public space, and even to and around the workplace, forces to think new forms of worker socialization, organization and mobilization. The extensive adoption of work from home undermines the work –life distinction and proposes new, deep forms of inequality. The realization that some of the worst treated employees are performing essential jobs for our society calls for rethinking the value of work.

In 2020, the Industrial Relations in Europe Conference had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. In 2021, aware of the importance of keeping up international and comparative research and debates, we make an optimistic but realistic call for a successful conference. It will be held in Florence in presence and on-line.

The choice of the cradle of the Renaissance for our location (precisely, the Scuola Normale Superiore facilities at Palazzo Strozzi) reaffirms this optimistic signal, in the hope that not only recovery, but also a renaissance of work quality and humanistic ideas about work may soon flourish.


Keynote speakers

Antonella Ceccagno, University of Bologna

Donatella Della Porta, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence

Richard Hyman, London School of Economics, London

Ines Wagner, Institute for Social Research, Oslo


Local organising committee

Guglielmo Meardi, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence

Mario Pianta, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence

Lorenzo Cini, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence

Franca Alacevich, University of Florence

Luigi Burroni, University of Florence

David Natali, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa

Gemma Scalise, University of Bergamo



Thursday 16 September (on-site)

9:00-11:00 Pre-conference meeting with Italian trade unionists and activists on  work restructuring in pandemic times

13:00 - 14:00 Opening plenary session (online)

14:15 - 15:45 Parallel sessions (online)

16:00 - 17:30 Parallel sessions (online)

17:45 - 19:15 Parallel sessions (online)

19:15 Reception, Palazzo Strozzi

20:30 Conference dinner, Trattoria Lo Stracotto

Friday 17th September

9:00 - 11:00 Parallel sessions (onsite - streamed)

11:30 - 13:30 Parallel sessions (onsite -streamed)

13:30 Lunch (lunch boxes, Palazzo Strozzi)

15:00 - 16:30 Final plenary session (onsite - streamed)

Palazzo Strozzi