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The Theory of Social Democracy

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4113-3
288 pages
September 2007, Polity
The Theory of Social Democracy (074564113X) cover image
The ascendancy of neo-liberalism in different parts of the world has put social democracy on the defensive. Its adherents lack a clear rationale for their policies. Yet a justification for social democracy is implicit in the United Nations Covenants on Human Rights, ratified by most of the worlds countries. The covenants commit all nations to guarantee that their citizens shall enjoy the traditional formal rights; but they likewise pledge governments to make those rights meaningful in the real world by providing social security and cultural recognition to every person.
This new book provides a systematic defence of social democracy for our contemporary global age. The authors argue that the claims to legitimation implicit in democratic theory can be honored only by social democracy; libertarian democracies are defective in failing to protect their citizens adequately against social, economic, and environmental risks that only collective action can obviate. Ultimately, social democracy provides both a fairer and more stable social order.
But can social democracy survive in a world characterized by pervasive processes of globalization? This book asserts that globalization need not undermine social democracy if it is harnessed by international associations and leavened by principles of cultural respect, toleration, and enlightenment. The structures of social democracy must, in short, be adapted to the exigencies of globalization, as has already occurred in countries with the most successful social-democratic practices.
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  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • I. Political Theory
  • 1. Social Rights, Risks and Obligations
  • 2. Regulation, Participation and Actors
  • II. Political Economy
  • 3. The Social Market Economy
  • 4. A Right-Based Welfare State
  • III. The Politics of Globalization
  • 5. Progressive Globalization
  • IV. Cultural Foundations
  • 6. The Universalism of Social Democracy
  • 7. Cultural Divergence and Social Citizenship
  • V. Theory and Practice
  • 8. Libertarian and Social Democracies Compared
  • 9. Defective and Consolidated Democracy
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Detailed Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • I. Political Theory
  • 1. Social Rights, Risks and Obligations
  • 1.1 Contradictions in Political Liberalism
  • 1.2 Social Citizenship
  • 1.3 Universal Fundamental Rights
  • 1.4 Social Risks and Fundamental Rights
  • 1.5 Self-Reliance and Civic Duties
  • 1.6 Social Democracy and Sustainability
  • 1.7 Justice and Political Integration

  • 2. Regulation, Participation and Actors
  • 2.1 Political Duties
  • 2.2 Actors, Systems, and Strategies
  • 2.3 Political Actors in Social Democracy
  • 2.4 Political Steering and Social Democracy
  • 2.5 Civil Society and Liberal Democracy
  • II. Political Economy
  • 3. The Social Market Economy
  • 3.1 Fundamental Rights and Political Economy
  • 3.2 Public Goods and Civil Rights
  • 3.3 The Market-State Complex
  • 3.4 Imbedding the Economy
  • 3.5 Varieties of Capitalism
  • 3.6 Types of Capitalism Compared
  • 3.7 The Social Market Economy
  • 3.8 Social Market Economy and Globalization
  • 4. A Rights-Based Welfare State
  • 4.1 Social Security Regimes
  • 4.2 Welfare State and Welfare Society
  • 4.3 Labour and Human Dignity
  • 4.4 Education as a Crucial Resource
  • 4.5 Perspectives on Sustainability
  • III. The Politics of Globalization
  • 5. Progressive Globalization
  • 5.1 SocialDemocracy and Globalization
  • 5.2 Global Citizenship
  • 5.3 Global Governance
  • 5.4 The Global Imbedding of Markets
  • 5.5 Globalization and Political Contingency
  • 5.6 Shaping and Coping

  • IV. Cultural Foundations
  • 6. The Universalism of Social Democracy
  • 7. Cultural Divergence and Social Citizenship
  • 7.1 Multiculturalism and Political Rights
  • 7.2 Cultural Difference and Social Citizenship
  • V. Theory and Practice
  • 8. Libertarian and Social Democracies Compared
  • 9. Defective and Consolidated Democracy
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
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    T.Meyer, Professor of Political Science, University of Dortmund

    L.P.Hinchman

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    • A ground breaking new book by Thomas Meyer, a leading theorist of contemporary politics
    • this book is the first attempt to write a theory of social democracy from first principles for a very long time and so could be potentially groundbreaking
    • likely to prove a highly influential book, and a benchmark for future debates in this area
    • an essential book on upper-level courses of social democracy, but also indispensible reading to all scholars and readers interested in the possibility of social democracy and what that might mean in the global age
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    "As Meyer lays out his case, it becomes clear that this book is the product of a skilful mind."
    Democratiya

    "The theory of social democracy developed by Professor Thomas Meyer marks an impressive, thought-provoking advance in the broader theory of democracy."
    Jürgen Habermas

    "This is an excellent book to give to students to make them think about the differences between various types of social democracy, also about the difference between liberal and social democracy. It is likely to prove highly influential and to be a benchmark for future debates."
    Andrew Gamble, University of Cambridge

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