How do trade unions contribute to democratisation?
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The Tunisian General Labour Union was one of the members of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, this year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The quartet was awarded the prize for its contribution to the democratic process in Tunisia. In the third wave of democratisation civil society and trade unions played an important role. This thesis aims to investigate how civil society and more specifically trade unions contribute to democratisation within a society. To analyse the question I have used some of the theoretical offspring of Tocqueville's «Democracy in America». More specifically I have used the institutionalist and pluralistic traditions and the participatory perspective. As examples for my analysis I have used three teacher trade unions in Sri Lanka. I have conducted interviews and used text analysis as methodology, hence the thesis is based on qualitative research. The trade unions do to some extent contribute to democratisation within the Sri Lankan society. Despite fragmentation, politicisation and restraints on unions organising public servants, the unions are able to influence politics, and hence contribute to democratisation. Moreover there are small, but not verifiable, signs that the participants' social capital' might increase. To reach their goal of becoming strong, independent, democratic and sustainable professional teacher trade unions there is a need to overcome some cleavages and work more closely together. To be able to contribute to democratisation at local level more inclusion of the grass root is required.