Germany and Britain are two major European ecomies that have been trying to confront the challenges of globalisation in very different ways. Britain has favoured market liberal strategies; Germany has endeavoured to retain its tradition of consensualism and the strong welfare state. Focusing on the period since 1997/8, this book explores the controversies and struggles surrounding the agendas of social, ecomic, and political modernisation in the two countries. The New Labour governments in Britain and the Social Democratic coalition governments in Germany have been introducing a range of reform policies designed to reform the welfare state and increase the respective country's competitiveness in the global market. In both countries, however, these policies have triggered societal resistance. The governing parties had to confront electoral setbacks, an exodus of party members, strains on the relationship with traditional political allies, and an increasingly alienated public. Within this context, this book focuses on the tensions between two key parameters in contemporary modernisation discourses: ecomic efficiency and democratic renewal. Political elites in many European countries are presenting the achievement of efficiency gains as a primary objective of globalisation-induced societal reform. At the same time civic empowerment and the engagement of civil society are widely regarded as essential for increasing the quality, legitimacy, and effectiveness of public policy making. But can these two goals be achieved at the same time? What exactly does the highly contested term efficiency imply? What is its relationship towards the equally ambiguous goal of democratic renewal? Focusing on a variety of political actors, structures and strategies in Germany and Britain, the individual chapters in this book trace how the tensions between ecomic efficiency and democratic renewal surface, how definitional struggles surrounding these ideals are being managed, and how new syntheses between the two parameters are being forged.
Ingolfur BlYhdorn is reader in politics and political sociology at the University of Bath (UK). His research interests include social and political theory, political sociology, as well as environmental sociology. He has published widely on social movements and their organizations, Green Parties and the transformation of politics in advanced European democracies. His forthcoming publications include the monograph Reinventing Green Politics: The Repositioning of Green Parties in a Changing Political Landscape (Berghahn 2007) and The Politics of Unsustainability: Eco-Politics in the Post-Environmental Era (Routledge 2007, co-edited with Ian Welsh). Uwe Junis professor of political science at the University of Trier (Germany). His research focus is on political institutions in western democracies, political communication and parliamentarism. He has widely published on political parties and on contemporary developments in European political systems. He is author of Wandel von Parteien in der Mediendemokratie (Parties in Media Democracy; Campus 2004), as well as editor of Politische Theorie und Regierungslehre. Eine EinfYhrung in die politikwissenschaftliche Institutionenforschung (Political Theory and Government. An Introduction to Political Research into Institutions; Campus 2004) and Kleine Parteien im Aufwind (Small Parties on the Rise; Campus 2006).