The book makes . . . important contributions to comparative politics and comparative political economy. . . . Smith has made a convincing case for looking at the political basis of economic change, and has provided a useful book for all those interested in how the left governs in the face of having to do the 'dirty job' of economic restructuring.
The Left’s Dirty Job compares the experiences of recent socialist governments in France and Spain, examining how the governments of Francois Mitterrand (1981-1995) and Felipe Gonzalez (1982-1996) provide a key test of whether a leftist approach to industrial restructuring is possible. This study argues that, in fact, both governments’s policies generally resembled those of other European governments in their emphasis on market-adapting measures that eliminated thousands of jobs while providing income support for displaced workers. Featuring extensive field work and interviews with over one hundred political, labor, and business leaders, this study is the first systematic comparison of these important socialist governments.
An excellent, well-organized account of how nominally socialist leaders [in France and Spain] sought to make their countries' industries more competitive in the global economy of the 1980s.
An outstanding job [and] an important contribution to the literature on economic adjustment, especially under leftist governments, and on Spanish and French political economy. It combines a clear theoretical argument with a wealth of data in a well-executed comparative study.
A well-written, exhaustively researched treatment of an important topic by an established scholar. Smith gives us the first comprehensive comparative assessment of the French and Spanish cases, which have begged for comparison. The empirical content is very impressive, and his treatment of the understudied Spanish case will be regarded as especially valuable.
An interesting and valuable comparative study of two socialist governments and their confrontation with the realities of industrial restructuring. . . . The author successfully supports his argument with rich and detailed documentation.
Smith's book emerges from a long-term research project that spanned the period he discusses. . . . This patient, long-term approach is apparent when one reads the text due to its relevant detail, insight, and perspectives. It makes a change to those grand projects which make grand statements about developments in employment relations yet which are based on relatively short stays in a workplace.
Directly engages the important debate about the determinants of national economic policies. Smith's work is a clear, detailed, and systematic comparison of the politics of industrial restructuring in France and Spain in old industries such as textiles, steel, and automobiles. . . . Makes significant contributions to our understanding of comparative political economy, especially in the area of social democratic parties' responses to economic challenges.
Smith eschews monocausal explanations and provides a rich, textured political analysis that he lays out with great clarity. ... This is a good, rewarding work.
W. Rand Smith is professor of politics and associate dean of the faculty at Lake Forest College. He has also taught at the University of Michigan, ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines (Paris), and Institut d’etudes Politiques (Grenoble). The author of Crisis in the French Labor Movement: A Grassroots Perspective (1987), Smith has published articles on French and Spanish political economy in such journals as Politics & Society, Comparative Politics, and West European Politics.