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Debating the Quality of Life: Social Democracy during the 1980s1

  • Jos de Beus and Thomas Koelble


Social Democratic Parties Across Europe Face adjustment problems. Given the electoral decline of almost every social democratic party, it is tempting for social scientists to pronounce such political parties as either in decay or even a thing of the past. There is little doubt that social democratic parties are searching for new concepts, ideas and policies. At the heart of the attempt to regain the political initiative is the debate over how to react not only to the challenges from the new social movements but also to the re-invigorated attack by liberals and conservatives on central social democratic policies: the welfare state and socioeconomicequality.



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Drafts of this article were presented at the 21st Annual Joint Sessions of the ECPR in Leiden, April 1993, and at the 89th Annual Meeting of the APSA in Washington DC, September 1993. The authors would particularly like to thank David Miller and Tim Tilton for their comments.



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2 See Przeworski, Adam and Sprague, John, Paper Stones: A History of Electoral Socialism, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1986 . Also Fox Piven, Frances, (ed.). Labor Partus in Postindustrial Societies, New York, Oxford University Press, 1991.

3 Offe, Claus, Contradictions of the Welfare State, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 1984 . See also Offe, Claus, ‘Smooth Consolidation in the West German Welfare State’, in Piven, F. F., (ed.), op. cit., 1991.

4 See Marks, Gary and Lemke, Christiane, (eds). The Crisis of Socialism in Europe, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 1992.

5 See Koelble, Thomas, ‘Recasting Social Democracy in Europe’, Politics and Society, Vol. 20, No. 1, 03 1992.

6 Gould, Carol, Rethinking Democracy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1988 provides a good introduction to die issues of social and economic democracy.

7 Rothstein, Bo, ‘Social Justice and State Capacity’, Politics and Society, Vol. 20, No. 1, 03 1992, pp. 102–3.

8 Naphtali, Fritz, Wirtschaftsdemokratis: Ihr Wesen, Wtg and Zitl, Berlin0, Allgemeine Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund, 1928.

9 Gleitze, Bruno, (ed.), Sozialkaital und Sezialfonds alt Mittel Vermogenspolitik, Cologne, WSI Veriag, 1969.

10 See also Esping-Andersen, Gosta, Politics Against Markets: Tat Social Democratic Road le Power, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1985 and the contributions by Pontusson, Jonas, ‘Behind and Beyond Social Democracy in Sweden’, New Left Review, 143, 01-02 1984 and ‘Radicalization and Retreat in Swedish Social Democracy’, New Left Review, 165, 1987.

11 Swenson, Peter, Fair Slums: Unions, Pay, and Polities in Sweden and West Germany, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1989, pp. 111128.

12 Swenson, ibid., 1989, p. 121.

13 Swenson, ibid., 1989, p. 113.

14 Swenson, Peter, ‘Labor and the Limits of the Welfare State’, Comparative Politics, Vol. 23, No. 4, 07 1991, p. 384.

15 Martin, Andrew, ‘Wages, Profits, and Investments in Sweden’, Lindberg, Leon and Maier, Charles, (eds.), The Politics of Inflation and Economic Stagnation, Washington DC, Brookings, 1985.

16 Swenson, op. cit., 1991, p. 394.

17 Esping-Andersen, op. cit., 1985, p. 297.

18 Esping-Andersen, op. cit., 1985, p. 294.

19 Swenson, op. cit., 1991, p. 390.

20 Swenson, ibid., 1991, p. 390.

21 Swenson, op. cit., 1989, pp. 185–205.

22 Swenson, op. cit., 1991, p. 391.

23 Swenson, op. cit., 1989, p. 7.

24 Pontusson, Jonas, ‘The Comparative Success of Labor-initiated Reform’, in Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 25, No. 4, 01 1993, p. 556.

25 Pontusson, op. cit., 1987, pp. 28–30.

26 Rothstein, op. cit., 1992, p. 118.

27 Pontusson, op. cit., 1993, pp. 557–559.

28 Swenson, op. cit., 1991, p. 383.

29 Swenson, op. cit., 1989, p. 196.

30 Swenson, op. cit., 1989, p. 164.

31 Esping-Andersen, op. cit., 1985, p. 311.

32 Rothstein, op. cit., 1992, pp. 120–3.

33 This is Van Parijs’s narrow definition: see Parijs, Philippe van, ‘Competing Justifications of Basic Income’, in Van Parijs, P. (ed.), Arguing for Basic Income, London, Verso, 1992, pp. 34 . See for a broad definition which includes partial basic income, household basic income, negative income tax and social service-based basic income, Roebroek, Joop M., The Imprisoned Slate, Tilburg, University Press, 1993, pp. 278–81.

34 See on the history of the idea of basic income Boulanger, Paul-Marie et al. (ed.), Ľ Allocauon Universelle, La Revue Nouvelle, 41, 1985, No. 4 ; Walter, Tony, Basic Income, London, Marion Boyars, 1989, pp. 2333 ; Trier, Walter van, ‘Who Framed Social Dividend?’, Rapport 89/230, University of Antwerp, 1989 ; Roebroek, Joop M. and Hogenboom, Erik, Basisinkonun, The Hague, Vuga, 1990, chs. 1, 4.

35 Roebroek and Hogenboom, op. cit., 1990, p. 82.

36 See Roebroek, op. cit., 1993, pp. 92–3.

37 Roebroek, ibid., 1993, pp. 107–9.

38 This is the most extensive basic income scheme to date, together with Parker, Hermione, Instead of the Dolt, London, Routledge, 1989 , who discusses a British model.

39 Den Uyl, Joop M., Dt tockomst onder ogen (Facing the Future), Amsterdam, Bert Bakker, 1986, pp. 131–2. Gorz refers here to the ‘South-Africanization effect’ of basic income: Andre Gorz, ‘On the Difference between Society and Community, and Why Basic Income Cannot by Itself Confer Full Membership of Either’, in Van Parijs (ed.), op. cit., 1992, p. 182.

40 Pronk, Jan et al., Schuidende panelen (Shifting Panels), Amsterdam, PvdA Press, 1987.

41 Central Planning Bureau, Scanning the Future, The Hague, SDU (State Press), 1992.

42 Arbeid, Partij van de, Wat mensen bindt (Things that bind People), Election Programme 1994–1998, Amsterdam, PvdA Press, 1993 , Section 4.4.

43 Roebroek, op. cit., 1993, pp. 285–9.

44 See Elster, Jon, Solomonic Judgements, Cambridge, University Press, 1989, pp. 215–16. See also Van Parijs (ed.), op. cit., 1992 and Roche, Maurice, Rethinking Citizenship, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1992 , part III and Veen, Robert Van der, Between Exploitation and Communism, Groningen, Wolters-Noordhoff, 1991, pp. 197207.

45 Brand, Kari-Werner, Buesser, Detlef and Rucht, Dieter, Aufbruch in cins Gestellchaft, Frankfurt, Campus Veriag, 1986 ; on the relationship between social democrats and environmentalism see Siegmann, Heinrich, The Conflicts between Labour and Environmentalism in the FRG and US, London, St. Martin’s Press, 1985.

46 Rubart, Frauke, ‘Neue Soziale Bewegungen und alte Parteien in Schweden’, in Brand, Karl-Werner, (ed.), Neue Soziale Bewegungen in Westeuropa und den USA, Frankfurt, Campus Verlag, 1985.

47 Padgett, Stephen, ‘The West German Social Democrats in Opposition 1982–1986’, West European Politics, Vol. 10, No. 3, 07 1987, pp. 339–40.

48 Party, Labour, Meet the Challenge – Make the Change, London, Labour Party, 1989, p. 76.

49 Hall, Peter, ‘Policy Paradigms, Social Learning and the State’, Comparative Politics, Vol. 25, No. 3, 04 1993 p. 288.

50 Weir, Margaret, ‘Ideas and bounded Innovation’, in Thelen, K., Steinmo, S. and Longstreth, F., (eds), Structuring Politics: Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Analysis, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992.

51 Weir, ibid., p. 189.

52 See Krieger, Joel, ‘Class, Consumption and Collectivism: Perspectives on the British Labour Party and Electoral Competition in Britain’, in Piven, Francis Fox, (ed.), op. cit., pp. 4770.

53 Max Weber quoted in Brubaker, Rogers, Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1992, p. 17.

54 See Anderson, Perry, A Zone of Engagement, London, Verso, 1992, p. 372–5.

1 Drafts of this article were presented at the 21st Annual Joint Sessions of the ECPR in Leiden, April 1993, and at the 89th Annual Meeting of the APSA in Washington DC, September 1993. The authors would particularly like to thank David Miller and Tim Tilton for their comments.

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Debating the Quality of Life: Social Democracy during the 1980s1

  • Jos de Beus and Thomas Koelble


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