From the 8-Hour Day to the 40-Hour Week: Legitimization Discourses of Labour Legislation between the Wars in France and Belgium

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

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From the 8-Hour Day to the 40-Hour Week: Legitimization Discourses of Labour Legislation between the Wars in France and Belgium


  • Sabine Rudischhauser Centre de Recherches Mondes Modernes et Contemporains, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium


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Abstract:  In the interwar period both France and Belgium passed legislation reducing the number of working hours and established a hybrid regulatory regime lending a certain degree of official authority to collective agreements. The paper analyses discourses by scholars who, as experts, were close to the political elites, and who tried to legitimize this kind of co-regulation by pointing out the inefficiency of state intervention and the epistemic authority of non-state actors. Stressing the output dimension of legitimacy and the improved quality of legal norms, these discourses had a technocratic tendency and ultimately argued in favour of a shift of power from the legislative to the administrative branch of government.

Keywords:  Belgium; France; Georges Scelle; Henri Velge; labour legislation; Paul Grunebaum-Ballin; public–private regulation

Published:   15 March 2017


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v5i1.776


© Sabine Rudischhauser. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.