Blackwood Group

Following discussion of Anthony Giddens The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy (1998) and The Third Way and Its Critics (2000), we decided to follow the logic of Giddens' investigation as a means to a constructive and critical response. Giddens identifies several global social developments as catalysts for a political shift "beyond Left and Right" to the politics of the Third Way. This was broken down (in true Giddens fashion!) into three components, running from the general to the specific:

1. general social processes
2. questions of ethical politics
3. relevant policies

We identified the major questions that Giddens' work poses and created a division of labour to investigate these major questions in more detail, resolving to meet again on Sunday 3 June at 2pm in Blackwood, at the Tearooms where we met today. When we meet once again, each of us will have prepared a one to two page summary of the area in question, analysing what Giddens says, what the sources he indicates argue (and any alternative resources), and an outline of a constructive critical response to this question.

The major questions (and division of labour) are as follows.

1. General social processes

  1. Globalisation (Roger and Fiona)
  2. Social complexity, information technology, and the new social movements (Geoff)
  3. “There is no alternative to capitalism” arguments (Bill)
  4. Nature and culture: the retreat of the natural boundary and the environment (Anitra)
  5. The role of the state and the institutions of modernity (Andy)
  6. "Beyond Left and Right": the social transformations of modern society, such as within the family, communities and identities (Ken)

2. Ethical politics

  1. Democracy: the "democratisation of democracy" and the autonomy of agents
  2. Social solidarity and the creation of self-reflexive bonds of community
  3. Liberalism and communitarianism: combinations, mixture, compromises – or an alternative?
  4. The rise of a new universality
  5. Technology, social participation and capacities
  6. "Beyond Left and Right" and the moral questions of modern society

3. Relevant policies

  1. Mutual responsibility
  2. Empowerment policies and the development of human capital
  3. The "new interventionism"
  4. Global governance
  5. The family, crime and policing: the "new conservatism"
  6. Neo-Keynesian economic policies
  7. Social inclusion
  8. The "new political culture" and "life politics"

Begin on Sunday 3 June 2001.