Welcome to Networks of Financial Power in Iceland: The Labour Movement Paradox

by Dr Herdís D Baldvinsdóttir

The study aims to explore co-operation between employers and the labour movement in the financial sector in Iceland, especially in the private pension fund industry. The thesis objective is to assess the consequences of this co-operation and the paradox it poses for the labour movement, in that it renders them strong and weak. Another main objective of the thesis is to give an insight into the power structure in Iceland at end of the 20th century.

The evidence shows that there exists a strong ‘ruling élite’ in Iceland, which has its basis in the large corporations and financial institutions, has potential control over the corporate community and plays a major role in shaping the social and political climate. The ‘ruling élite’ is socially and economically cohesive, which is manifested in common stock ownership and most visibly in the complex pattern of interlocking directorships that unites the corporate community and creates a dense communication network. This has contributed to economic concentration and centralisation.

The findings indicate that through co-operation with employers in the private pension fund industry, the labour movement has been incorporated into this external power structure, through a vast and complicated network of personal, financial and interlocking directorships. That is the main paradox of the labour movement: it has become weak for its members and strong for the ‘ruling élite’.

Read the full thesis

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