This chapter analyses the long-term changes in the patterns of industrial conflict in eighteen Western nations. Since the beginning of the 1970s the developments in the Western nations have underlined the error in the pluralistic assumption concerning the separation of economic and political conflict. The chapter discusses the prevailing theoretical interpretations of industrial conflict as a background to an analysis of factors affecting the paths which the development of industrial strife has taken in the countries. The approach to the development of industrial conflict, dominant in the social sciences during the postwar years, has been based on the pluralist industrial model of society. On the European scene the pluralist hypothesis, that industrial conflict reflects the malfunctioning of social institutions, has emerged most clearly and most forcefully in what has become known as ‘the Oxford school’ of industrial relations. The views of the ‘Oxford school’ have shaped official British attempts to deal with industrial conflict.