State in which the members are organized and represented not on a local basis as citizens, but as producers working in a particular trade, industry, or profession. Originating with the syndicalist workers' movement (see syndicalism), the idea was superficially adopted by the fascists during the 1920s and 1930s. Catholic social theory, as expounded in some papal encyclicals, also favours the corporative state as a means of eliminating class conflict.
The concept arose in the political theories of the syndicalist movement of the early 20th century, which proposed that all industries should be taken over and run by the trade unions, a federation of whom should replace the state. Similar views were put forward in Britain by the guild socialists about 1906–25. Certain features of syndicalist theory were adopted and given a right-wing tendency by the fascist regime in Italy, under which employers' and workers' organizations were represented in the National Council of Corporations, but this was completely dominated by the Fascist Party and had no real powers. Corporative institutions were set up by the Franco and Salazar regimes in Spain and Portugal, under the influence of fascist and Catholic theories. In Spain representatives of the national syndicates were included in the Cortes (parliament), and in Portugal a corporative chamber existed alongside the national assembly.
The Italian model In Italy in 1934 a National Council of Corporations was constituted, consisting of representatives of all the chief trades, while the governing body of each individual corporation included representatives of the state administration and of the Fascist Party. The salient feature was the equal proportion of representatives of capital and labour for each section of a corporation, together with an additional element of technical experts. The name ‘corporation’ was originally applied to the fascist trade unions, which were designed to replace the old labour unions or confederations.
In 1938 the Grand Fascist Council replaced the existing chamber of deputies by a new chamber of the Fasci and corporations as the legislative and representative organ of the state. The new council was formed by a combination of the National Council of the Fascist Party and the National Council of Corporations.