Corporatism is descriptive and prescriptive theory of government’s relations with society.
It is sometimes termed neo-corporatism to distinguish it from the political theories of fascism.
In the prescriptive version, all those engaged in a common enterprise, particularly as a means of making a living, have a common interest and should deal with government through their leaders as, for example, educational workers, or workers in agriculture, rather than ‘horizontally’ as laborers, clerical workers, managers, and so on. This was being attempted by Italian fascism under Benito Mussolini (1883-1945).
Descriptively, first in the work of the French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) and later in a version fashionable in the 1970s, modern governments deal with organized interests by negotiating with the leaders of the great ‘corporations’ of labor and capital/management.
Corporatism went into both theoretical and practical decline in the 1980s.
David Miller et al., eds, The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought (Oxford, 1987)