CEE General Seminar “Has social democracy run out of steam?“, by Roberto Frega, Centre d’étude des mouvements sociaux (CEMS), CNRS.
The paper examines the political crisis of social democratic parties in Western Europe in light of its impact on the social democratic emancipatory project, and asks whether the first calls the second into question. It first begins by defining social democracy as an emancipatory project, and identifies three major historical phases which correspond to three distinct conceptions of the project. Section two examines recent literature in comparative welfare state economics, political sociology, and studies on populism and authoritarianism, to show how the socioeconomic transformations of the last five decades have enlarged and fragmented the constituency of social democratic parties, and contends that this situation has produced powerful tensions between the normative and the mundane dimensions of the social democratic project. Three major dilemmas – economic, cultural, and political – leading to three deep conflicts internal to the social democratic constituency are identified and discussed. Combining these empirical findings with the three rival interpretations of the social democratic project introduced in section one, section three develops three possible scenarios for the evolution of the social democratic project in the near future. Section four assesses the likelihood and political meaning of each of the three scenarios for the pursuit of the social democratic project.
4 February 2020
Sciences Po, Room Goguel, 27 rue Saint-Guillaume, Paris
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