The Politics of Social Justice after the Collapse of the Left-Right Continuum

Azmanova, Albena The Politics of Social Justice after the Collapse of the Left-Right Continuum. In: Annual colloquium in Critical Theory, 14-19 May, 2008, Prague . (Unpublished) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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The combined effect of changes in the structure of the political economy and the structure of political competition over the past decade has lead to the erosion of the European Social Model. This paper traces these two trajectories of change in the mature democraties of Europe. My main hypothesis is that a new political cleavage, shaped by citizens' perceptions of the social impact of globalization, is opting out to replace the left-right dichotomy that had organized the ideological space in Europe over the past century. The new axis of political competition runs across, rather than along, the left-right ideological continuum, splitting the typical constituencies of the Left and the Right. This entails adverse consequences for the social justice agenda in two ways. First, an alliance between capital and labor in favor of commodification emerges around one of the poles of the new axis of political competition. Second, this axis positions the constituencies of the 'old' and the 'new' Left against each other -- as their preferences for public policies start to conflict (e.g. regarding the agenda of economic competition, or the introduction of costly green technology). As a result, the alliance of social forces that supported the project of the European Social Model (based on a series of policies of labor-force decommodification) is being eroded. This means that neither of the new poles of political competition can issue governments enjoying sufficient societal support for active revival of the welfare state. If the classical instruments of political representation and party government become unfit for advancing a progressive social policy agenda, what alternative paths are available?

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Lecture)
Subjects: H Social Sciences
J Political Science
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Albena Azmanova
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2011 16:46
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2011 16:46
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