Browse

Open Access (free)
The place of equal opportunity
Andrew Mason

This chapter introduces the basic elements of John Rawls's theory as they were presented in A Theory of Justice, for it is here that Rawls gives the most sustained treatment of equality of opportunity. In the widespread disagreement over which the principles of justice should govern our major institutions, Rawls draws upon the social contract tradition in order to develop a method which he hopes can secure agreement on a particular conception of justice. Rawls begins his discussion of equality of opportunity by endorsing the idea that careers should be open to talents in the sense that everyone should have 'the same legal rights of access to all advantaged social positions'. Rawls develops his argument for the priority of liberty in a way that might seem to promise an explanation of why he thinks the principle of fair equality of opportunity should take priority over the difference principle.

in Political concepts
Open Access (free)
Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

This chapter explores socialism, an ideology that sprang from the industrial revolution and the experience of the class that was its product, the working class. Though a more coherent ideology than conservatism, socialism has several markedly different strands. In order to appreciate these, and the roots of socialism in a concrete historical experience, the chapter also explores its origins and development, giving particular attention to the British Labour Party. Utopian socialism, Marxism, nonconformist Christianity, class struggle, trade unionism, Fabianism, vegetarianism, pacifism and New Liberalism all contributed to the development of British socialism in the form of the Labour Party. The Labour Party is one of the least ideological socialist parties in Europe but, arguably, one that has changed its society the most. The chapter concludes with some reflections on 'Blairism' and the 'Third Way', and the possible future of socialism as an ideology.

in Understanding political ideas and movements
Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

This chapter explores the concept of the state, looking at various theories of the state and identifying its major characteristics and then how far real states measure up to these characteristics. It identifies different 'types' of state in political theory and looks at the major challenges to practical state sovereignty in the modern world. The challenges include the structure of international society; the impact of globalisation; the spread of weapons of mass destruction; the growth of informal ties; the rise of new international actors; and neo-colonialism. State sovereignty has always been predicated upon political power: the practical ability of the state to defend its sovereignty against internal revolt and external enemies. The chapter examines the issue of whether the state is still as fundamental a political institution.

in Understanding political ideas and movements
Open Access (free)
Dimitris N. Chryssochoou, Michael J. Tsinisizelis, Stelios Stavridis and Kostas Ifantis

This chapter takes a look at EU theorising and some methodological issues surrounding the study of the regional process. It studies various theoretical approaches to European integration that were developed during the formative years of the process and up to the late 1970s, and also addresses the difficulty surrounding the issue of defining the regional system and the origins of political unions.

in Theory and reform in the European Union

This substantially updated and revised edition offers a comprehensive overview of the challenges confronting the political system as well as the international politics of the European Union. It draws from a spectrum of regional integration theories to determine what the Union actually is and how it is developing, examining the constitutional politics of the European Union, from the Single European Act to the Treaty of Nice and beyond. The ongoing debate on the future of Europe links together the questions of democracy and legitimacy, competences and rights, and the prospects for European polity-building. The aim is to contribute to a better understanding of the emerging European polity and the questions that further treaty reform generates for the future of the regional system. The authors also assess the evolving European security architecture; the limits and possibilities of a genuine European foreign, security and defence policy; and the role of the EU in the post-Cold War international system. Common themes involve debates about stability and instability, continuity and change, multipolarity and leadership, co-operation and discord, power capabilities and patterns of behaviour. The book traces the defining features of the ‘new order’ in Europe and incorporates an analysis of the post-September 11th context.

Open Access (free)
Criticisms, futures, alternatives

In the late 1990s Third Way governments were in power across Europe - and beyond, in the USA and Brazil, for instance. The Third Way experiment was one that attracted attention worldwide. The changes made by Left parties in Scandinavia, Holland, France or Italy since the late 1980s are as much part of Third Way politics as those developed in Anglo-Saxon countries. Since the early 1990s welfare reform has been at the heart of the Centre-Left's search for a new political middle way between post-war social democracy and Thatcherite Conservatism. For Tony Blair, welfare reform was key to establishing his New Labour credentials - just as it was for Bill Clinton and the New Democrats in the USA. Equality has been 'the polestar of the Left', and the redefinition of this concept by Giddens and New Labour marks a significant departure from post-war social democratic goals. The most useful way of approaching the problem of the Blair Government's 'Third Way' is to apply the term to its 'operational code': the precepts, assumptions and ideas that actually inform policy choice. The choice would be the strategy of public-private partnership (PPP) or the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), as applied to health policy. New Labour is deeply influenced by the thoughts and sentiments of Amitai Etzioni and the new communitarian movement. Repoliticisation is what stands out from all the contributions of reconstructing the Third Way along more progressive lines.

Eunice Goes

This chapter argues that the ideas of duty and responsibility defended by communitarianism were used by New Labour to water down the party's commitment to equality. It begins with a brief explanation of communitarian ideas, and focuses on the works of 'prescriptive communitarians', given that it was these thinkers who had an influence on New Labour's thinking. The chapter deals with the link between ideas on community and socialism. The idea of community was present in Tony Blair's Third Way pamphlet, in which he defended a 'politics of "us" rather than "me"', one that would be based on 'an ethic of responsibility as well as rights'. The chapter is concerned with the narrative on social exclusion-social inclusion, which sheds light on New Labour's approach to poverty and social inequalities. It ends with a discussion of the implications of those deviations for the party's ideology.

in The Third Way and beyond
Dimitris N. Chryssochoou, Michael J. Tsinisizelis, Stelios Stavridis and Kostas Ifantis

This chapter focuses on the politics of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) 2000, which led to the signing of the highly debated and controversial Treaty of Nice (NIT), and shows the way the final agreement was reached and the increasing dissonance between larger and smaller EU states during the final steps of the negotiations. It recalls other important issues that were addressed in the IGC, such as the simplification of the Treaties and the hierarchy of Community Acts. The chapter also discusses the views of the Commission and other institutions on the Nice Process, takes note of the changes that were made to the weighting system and the NIT, and studies the concept of enhanced cooperation.

in Theory and reform in the European Union
A guide for A2 politics students
Series: Understandings
Authors: Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

In liberal democracies there is a belief that citizens ought to take an active interest in what is happening in the political world. Political debate in modern Western democracies is a complex and often rowdy affair. There are three fundamental political issues: 'politics', 'power' and 'justice', which feature in almost all political discussions and conflicts. The book assesses the degree to which the state and state sovereignty are disappearing in the modern world of 'globalised' politics, economics and culture and new international institutions. The main features of the nation and the problems of defining it are outlined: population, culture, history, language, religion, and race. Different types of democracy and their most important features are discussed. 'Freedom' is usually claimed to be the prime objective of political activity. The book discusses equality of human rights, distributional equality, equality before the law, the claims for group equality on the grounds of race, gender, class. Rights, obligations and citizenship are closely associated. Ideology is the driving force of political discourse. The book also discusses nationalism's growth and development over the last two centuries with particular reference to its main features and assumptions. It outlines the development of conservatism as a political ideology and movement in Britain during the last two centuries. An overview of liberalism, socialism, Marxism, anarchism, and Fascism follows. Environmentalism and feminism are also discussed. Finally, the book talks about how ideological change occurs and stresses the importance of rationality in politics.

Bill Jordan

Political theory has responded to the central questions about redistributive welfare systems, their justification, and the institutional means for implementing them, raised by the political economy. This chapter traces the transition from welfare to social exclusion, and the various theoretical responses it has elicited. The idea that political justice should deal in issues about the distribution of roles and resources, presupposes a political community which corresponds to an economic system for production and exchange. The libertarian challenge to liberal and communitarian political theorists over welfare and social exclusion is to reconstruct a convincing version of social justice, one which retains the appealing aspects of individual autonomy, but deals with its undesirable social consequences. The liberal response attacks the libertarian account of justice by pointing out that it is not only when rights are violated that freedom is restricted.

in Political concepts