The Library and the Workshop: Social Democracy and Capitalism in the Knowledge Age

The Library and the Workshop: Social Democracy and Capitalism in the Knowledge Age

The Library and the Workshop: Social Democracy and Capitalism in the Knowledge Age

The Library and the Workshop: Social Democracy and Capitalism in the Knowledge Age

Synopsis

This book offers a detailed account of the way that social democracy today makes sense of capitalism. In particular, it challenges the idea that social democracy has gone "neoliberal," arguing that so-called Third Way policies seem to have brought out new aspects of a thoroughgoing social interventionism with roots deep in the history of social democracy. Author Jenny Andersson expertly develops the claim that what distinguishes today's social democracy from the past is the way that it equates cultural and social values with economic values, which in turn places a premium on individuals who are capable of succeeding in the knowledge economy. Offering an insightful study of Britain's New Labour and Sweden's SAP, and of the political cultural transformations that have taken place in those countries, this is the first book that looks seriously into how the economic, social, and cultural policies of contemporary social democracy fit together to form a particular understanding of capitalism and capitalist politics.

Excerpt

In recent years, much attention has been devoted to the repositioning of social democracy known as the Third Way, particularly in its Anglo-Saxon form, but far less to its place in the history of social democracy. The first wave of studies of the Third Way saw it as neoliberal, as a continuation of significant elements of Thatcherism as regards the economy, industrial relations, and social justice.1 Rather, I suggest, the Third Way draws on fundamental continuities in the social democratic project, continuities that are, however, not unproblematic. In particular, this book explores the Third Way's relationship to the knowledge economy and the way in which the Third Way's understanding of the knowledge economy leads to a reinterpretation of fundamental postulates of social democracy around capitalism.

The knowledge economy has been a central element of the Third Way, almost to the point of being its raison d'être. Just as earlier processes of social democratic revisionism took place around processes of industrial transformation, so the Third Way can be understood as the rearticulation of a set of ideological postulates in relationship to its conception of a new economic and social order. Similar to the way in which Social Democrats in the 1950s and 1960s tried to provide ideological coherence to the industrial economy and the social and cultural changes it brought with it, the Third Way is an ideological project that attempts to establish coherent articulations of the knowledge economy. Some of its articulations are indeed strikingly similar to social democracy's discourses on the need for adaptation to the industrial economy during the Wilson era in the United Kingdom and the Erlander years in Sweden. Since the . . .

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