This paper contrasts the characteristics of different types of modernities, noting the present transition occurring between its simple and reflexive manifestations. It then demonstrates how mainstream industrial relations theories have long been framed by a collectivist 'risk insurance principle '. In combining these two observations the argument is made that theories built around institutional dependencies that rely on the evidence or assumption ofoperable risk insurance principles and collective guardianships of workplace well being make less sense in a world of emerging personal narratives ofchoice and dependency that centre around individuals taking personal responsibility for avoiding or diminishing the risks of their engagement with uncertain labour markets. The discussion concludes by setting out the social and epistemological conditions under which future industrial relations theorising might beframed so as to accommodate these emerging conditions in a manner that is both realistic and relevant.
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