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Social democracy between progress and conservation

Vossing, K. ORCID: 0000-0002-7269-0317 (2024). Social democracy between progress and conservation. In: Schieder, A., Andor, L., Maltschnig, M. & Skrzypek, A. (Eds.), Progressive Ambition: how to shape Europe in the next decade. Next Left, 15. (pp. 214-230). Brussels: FEPS - Foundation for European Progressive Studies.


The article develops the argument that social democracy has changed from a party of progress to a party of conservation. I argue that this transformation has its roots in the 1970s, and that it intensifi ed during the multiple crises of the past 15 years. Electoral appeals and policies of European social democratic parties during this time were by and large reactions to massive external change designed to conserve prior achievements under extreme pressure. Based on this analysis, I outline the suggestion that social democracy should become a party of progress again, and I show how this can be done by telling a story of progress through the image of building a house together. The article concludes with a discussion of what to keep in mind in different national contexts when switching gears from conservation to progress.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Copyright © 2024 by Foundation for European Progressive Studies
Publisher Keywords: Progress vs conservation, a house metaphor for a party, collective action, ability to take sides, convincing narrative
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs
School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
SWORD Depositor:
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