Anthony Giddens' "The Third Way".

Essay by juanjoUniversity, Master's May 2003

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Anthony Giddens is the Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science and belongs to the most important personalities of contemporary world sociology. He is the author or editor over thirty books. Until today his work, and most of all the book Beyond Left and Right (Polity Press, 1994), has influenced discussions on searching new political patterns and renewal of social democracy in many countries across the world. Giddens is often presented as the ideological father, the guru of Tony Blair. He has influenced the evolution of the so called New Labour. In 1998 Giddens published another book which refers to this topic called The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy. After the demise of the Soviet block and the end of Cold War it represented one of the first and most comprehensive analyses of the new version of the Third Way policy and reflected the actual world situation and problems of the western countries.

Although it remains up-to-date, it was necessary to re-assess some of the Giddens´ thoughts in the light of the events of the last two years.

At the very beginning of the book Giddens shows the development of socialism as well as of the political left, that have been always linked together. He describes origins of socialism in the second half of the 18th century and looks for the basic features of the old-style or classical social democracy (the so called "old left"). Socialism in the West became dominated by social democracy - moderate, parliamentary socialism. According to him its main goal is the welfare state. From the half of the 1970s there is an alternative represented by the neoliberal doctrine (Thatcherism or Reaganism, the so called "new right"). Both approaches are currently facing a crisis. According to Giddens neoliberalism creates new...