these factors shaped (and continue to shape) governance
Topic: Describe and analyze the main factors that have shaped the nature of governance in rich countries since the 1980s. How have these factors shaped (and continue to shape) governance?
Reflecting on the five weeks of lectures, tutorials, and readings on governance challenges in rich countries, provide a response in 1000 words to the following question:
Describe and analyse the main factors that have shaped the nature of governance in rich countries since the 1980’s. How have these factors shaped (and continue to shape) governance?
The concepts (public administration reform, the private sector, popular participation, decentralization, and accountability and corruption) are the main core themes of the course, you will need to integrate them, and synthesize them into your response in some way. This doesn’t mean you have to provide a paragraph for each of them but you need to draw upon each concept in providing your overall response. You can choose 2-3 main themes that can integrate all of the concepts.
The main idea is to look at the forces of change that compelled new ways of thinking about government emerging. For example one of your main ideas can be ‘the increasing prevalence of technology that lead to the shaping of the nature of governance as it created new opportunities for participation’ (e-democracy, e-government, e-governance etc.) << STILL drawing on course material and concept of participation but you’re looking at forces that shaped governance since 1980s
In constructing your argument use examples, evidence and case studies from course material to support what you are saying. DO NOT JUST STATE YOU POSITIONING, have an argument (why because approach).
When you select your MAIN points, provide a rationale of why you adopted those main factors.
– Describe what they are
– Analyze what they are
– Link those to change in governance
Make sure you have a logical flow, each sentence and paragraph should flow and link well.
Correct grammar and punctuation
Reference lectures example: (Adrian, lecture 7)
Articles should be reference as normal (Harvard-style)
A reflective maker is a short written piece of assessment that aims to encourage students to engage in an analytical manner with set material from the course
This is a chance for students to reflect on information, ideas and concepts and then provide an original written response
This assessment piece assists in the development of a strong authorial voice and an original analytical approach to a student’s written work
The Rise and Fall of the Third Way
AQ: Journal of Contemporary Analysis Vol 75, No 2, pp.10-15 (March-April 2003)
In 1998, a new term hit the political scene. According to two of the most powerful leaders
in the developed world, US President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
the “Third Way” was the ideology of the future. Their declarations, and a series of
subsequent Third Way summits, evoked strong responses from political parties in all
parts of the ideological spectrum. For a while, momentum began to build behind the
phrase. But five years on, the Third Way movement seems largely to have lapsed, at least
as measured by media and academic interest in the past three years.
Why has the Third Way waned? Can the decline be blamed on electoral events, particular
to the UK, US, and Australia? Or is there something about the Third Way itself which led
it to collapse? This article charts its the decline, and then turns to examine the possible
Which way did the Third Way go?
The growth of the Third Way in the late-1990s was due in large part to two seminal
works: Anthony Giddens’ The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy and Tony
Blair’s The Third Way: New Politics for a New Century. Both published in late-1998,
they articulate a similar vision of what the Third Way is, and what it seeks to distinguish
itself from. Subsequent writings – including Giddens’ The Third Way and its Critics, and
The Global Third Way Debate, and in Australia, Botsman and Latham’s The Enabling
State: People Before Bureaucracy have followed a similar typology.
From Giddens and Blair, it is possible to distil five ideas that encapsulate the core of
Third Way thinking: transcending the distinction between left and right; advancing
equality of opportunity; employing mutual responsibility; strengthening communities;
and embracing globalisation. Both favour a renewal of liberalism, and are unabashedly
How influential has the Third Way been since 1998? Figure 1 shows one measure of
influence – the number of times the phrase has been cited in five of the major newspapers
in Britain, the United States, and Australia. The first point to note is the difference in
magnitudes. Across this period, the third way was mentioned more than twice as often in
UK papers than in Australian papers, and almost three times as often in UK papers as in
US papers. However, the trends are relatively similar. Usage of the term “third way” in
newspapers peaked in 1998 in both Britain and the United States, and in 1999-2000 in
Figure 2 shows the trend in discussing the Third Way in academic journals.
Unsurprisingly, these numbers lag the newspaper figures somewhat – with overall
citations in English-language journals peaking in 1999, and in Australian journals in
2001. Nonetheless, the declining interest in the third way in academia is clearly evident.
[Figures 1 and 2 about here]
Admittedly, citations are an imperfect measure of the influence of an idea, since they
measure only references to the phrase, and not to its underlying meaning. Moreover, there
is certainly some “noise” in the data, since we cannot assume that every use of the term
“third way” refers to the political philosophy.
Notwithstanding the drawbacks of using citation data as a measure of influence, it does
help to provide some sense of the prominence of the Third Way in public and academic
debates over this period. Moreover, the data in Figures 1 and 2 generally accords with the
political history of the Third Way movement in Britain, the US, and Australia. The
numbers of international Third Way summits, the first of which was held in 1998, have
also followed a similar trajectory.
In Britain, Tony Blair – once the strongest political promoter of the Third Way, appears
to have essentially ceased using the term since 2001. Likewise, other prominent
politicians, and British thinktanks, have fallen silent on the topic in the last two years.
And with the exception of Giddens and one or two others, the academic community
appears to have done the same.
In the US, the main proponents of the Third Way in 1998-99 were Clinton and the
centrist Democratic Leadership Council. Yet beyond this, the Third Way never came into
the same prominence among American politicians, thinktanks and academics, as it did
among their British and Continental European counterparts. One possible explanation is
that US policymakers have traditionally exhibited less interest in political theory; tending
to focus attention instead on the more practical challenges of public policy.
In Australia, the Third Way debate has taken a different tack again. In 1998-99, the
prevailing view among social democrats was that the Third Way was simply a new label
for policies pursued by the ALP in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The exception was Mark
Latham, who after resigning from the front bench in October 1998 set about becoming a
policy entrepreneur and media commentator nonpareil. In the process, Latham made his
name synonymous with the Third Way
to such an extent that, by the end of 1999,
virtually no other politician (with the exception of Western Australian Premier Geoff
) was willing to use the term to describe their own political beliefs.
In the international political arena, the Third Way received its most substantial boost
from the “Third Way dialogue” that took place between a range of social democratic
leaders during 1998 and 1999. The first such meeting, in September 1998, was a dialog
between Blair, Clinton and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in New York. This was
followed by a larger meeting in April 1999, this time including Blair, Clinton, German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Italian Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema and Dutch
Prime Minister Wim Kok, convening in Washington, DC. The third such meeting took
place in November 1999, this time including Blair, Clinton, D’Alema and Schroeder, plus
French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Brazilian President Fernando Henrique
Cardoso, convening in Florence. Yet by the end of the year, the momentum appeared to
have flagged. In June 2000, a group of twelve social democratic leaders again convened,
this time in Berlin. But this time the phrase “Third Way” was notably absent from the
communiqué. Since then, such large-scale meetings of social democratic heads of state
appear to have been abandoned.
The death of the Third Way – murder or suicide?
In broad terms, two possible explanations account for the decline of the Third Way – that
it was killed off by electoral factors, or that inherent features in the Third Way were
responsible for its decline.
First, the electoral factors. In five of the major third way countries – the US, UK,
Germany, Italy, and Australia, defendants of the Third Way can point to political shifts
that hampered its progress.
· United States: The end of Clinton’s Presidency effectively took out of play the only
serious American champion of the Third Way. Even prior to the end of his
presidency, the 2000 election campaign required Clinton to focus more attention on
domestic issues, and less on broad theories of governance, while I cannot find any
record of the Democratic Presidential nominee, Al Gore, having mentioned it during
the election campaign. In the post-Clinton era, the Democratic Leadership Council is
yet to find a new advocate for the Third Way, with none of the leading contenders for
the Democratic nomination – Tom Daschle, John Edwards, John Kerry, and Joe
Lieberman – having embraced the description. For now at least, the Third Way in
America seems to languish.
· United Kingdom: 1999 saw Blair’s first slump in poll ratings, with Labour’s lead
over the Conservatives halved from 20% to 10% between January and November. In
mid-1999, British Labour suffered an electoral shock when the Conservatives
outpolled Labour by 33% to 28% in the European Parliament elections. Due in part to
these setbacks, the Blair Government tended to focus less on ideological debates, and
more on achieving its policy benchmarks in health, education, and policing.
May 2001 election, expenditure on social services was a major political issue. In such
an environment, it became more difficult for Labour to maintain that it was
transcending the difference between left and right. Blair barely mentioned the Third
Way during the 2001 election campaign, nor since.
· Germany: After issuing a joint declaration on The Third Way/Die Neue Mitte with
Blair in June 1999, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder subsequently found himself
slumping in the opinion polls and under pressure from the left wing of his party. He
has barely referred to the Third Way since, and conflict over Iraq has severely
strained relationships between the British Labour Party and the German Social
· Italy: Third Way President Massimo D’Alema resigned in April 2000, and his social
democratic successor, Giuliano Amato, showed substantially less interest in the topic.
In June 2001, conservative Silvio Berlusconi won the Presidency.
· Australia: During the 1998-2001 term, Kim Beazley focused his energies during the
1998-2001 electoral term on attacking the GST, and presenting instead a small set of
carefully costed policies. Such a strategy left little room for discussing political
philosophy – effectively leaving the Third Way debate open for Latham. Since
November 2001, the ALP’s new leader, Simon Crean, has shown no apparent interest
in the Third Way.
These electoral explanations go some of the way towards accounting for the decline of
the Third Way. But they still leave us with the puzzle of why so many parties, when
faced with electoral difficulties, turned away from the Third Way rather than towards it.
If one accepts that the theory of the Third Way was relevant to modern social democratic
parties, then there are two possible reasons why it might have slipped from prominence in
recent years. One is that it explained too much – and has now been accepted by the
majority of social democratic parties in the developed world. The alternative is that it
explained too little, and has declined because policymakers have realised that it does not
provide guidance on the most difficult choices to be made in government.
First, the more optimistic approach. One theory that might be put forward for the drop-off
in Third Way citations and Third Way summits is that the theory has now dominated the
field. In 1992, Francis Fukuyama contended that the success of liberal democracy had
ensured that all serious political discussion would take place within its cultural horizons.
Does the Third Way now define the horizons of serious political discussion within social
Perhaps the strongest evidence for such a proposition is the shift towards more market-oriented policies that took place in most OECD nations between 1980 and 2000.
should be added the fact that few social democratic governments have retreated from
globalisation to autarky in the face of strong protests from their citizenry. Large-scale
demonstrations against international institutions such as the World Trade Organisation
and the World Bank have resulted in greater transparency, but no major policy shifts.
Yet it is difficult to distinguish correlation from causation. Well before the advent of the
Third Way, its core principles – transcending left and right, redefining equality,
rediscovering liberalism, responsibility, community, globalisation and modernism – had
gained widespread acceptance among centre-left policymakers in the developed world. In
Britain, the most significant evolution of policy took place in the early-1990s, before
Labour won office.
In the US, President Clinton’s mantra of “opportunity,
responsibility, community” emerged from the 1995, 1996 and 1997 State of the Union
addresses. In Australia, the fiercest debates over the Labor Party’s shift towards more
market-driven policies took place in the late-1980s (and arguably helped influence
policies elsewhere – particularly in the UK).
The mere fact that the Third Way arose in the late-1990s makes it difficult to see how it
could have affected the move to the right by many social democratic parties over the
previous two decades. Indeed, it seems more likely that the electoral success of
conservative political parties in Britain, the US and Germany during the 1980s was a
much more significant factor in a transition that had begun even before the collapse of
Eastern European state socialism in 1989-90. But likewise, critics of the left are wrong to
say that the Third Way has declined because of its rejection of their values. Most
mainstream policymakers in social democratic parties today sit comfortably within the
scope of the Third Way. Yet so would many conservative policymakers, and therein lies
For many policymakers, the very generality of the Third Way has meant that it does little
to help them choose between competing proposals. As Ralf Dahrendorf (a predecessor of
Giddens as Director of the London School of Economics) has argued, the Third Way is a
politics that speaks of the need for hard choices but then avoids them by trying to please
Dahrendorf’s critique is particularly apposite when applied to contemporary policy
challenges. Take for example some of the toughest questions currently confronting the
US Democrats: What level of immigration is appropriate for the US to accept? How can
the quality of education for poor inner city children be improved? Are more curbs on
civil liberties appropriate in order to increase chances of preventing future terrorist
attacks? It is difficult to see how the broad nostrums of the Third Way provide guidance
one way or another.
Likewise in Britain. How might the pensions system be reformed? Is reform of the health
system likely to require inducing greater competition with the private health system?
Should Britain adopt the Euro? While Anthony Giddens may have a view on some of
these issues, there is nothing in his broad Third Way principles that answers the
Finally, the same is true in Australia. Contentious debates within the Labor Party over
recent years have included questions of whether trade sanctions are an effective tool to
improve labour standards, how paid maternity leave might be implemented, to what
extent welfare resources should be geographically targeted, and whether refugees should
be detained. The Third Way offers little by way of guidance to those looking for the best
solution. Indeed, while Latham (the strongest advocate for an Australian Third Way) has
put forward a variety of policy initiatives in recent years – including banning trade in
goods produced with child labour, providing tax incentives for first share purchases, and
using the community sector to deliver employment services; one could well imagine
Third Way counter-arguments to each of his proposals.
One reason that the Third Way provides so little guidance on such issues is that its very
status as a political ideology is tenuous.
In his introduction to Contemporary Political
Ideologies, Roger Eatwell defines a political ideology as:
“a relatively coherent set of empirical and normative beliefs and thought, focusing
on the problems of human nature, the process of history, and socio-political
arrangements. … Political ideologies are essentially the product of collective
thought. They are ‘ideal types’, not to be confused with specific movements,
parties or regimes which may bear their name”
Among bona fide political ideologies, Eatwell lists socialism, nationalism, liberalism and
conservatism. Against these, he distinguishes propaganda (deliberate attempts to gain
political influence), socialisation (the process by which values are transmitted), and
culture (the value structure of a society).
While Eatwell does not deal with the Third Way in particular, there are three bases on
which his definition could be used to suggest that it does not constitute a political
ideology. First, it lacks coherence, due in part to the fact that it is often defined in
opposition to other ideologies. Secondly, it is often defined around identification with
particular political parties (eg. the British Labour Party), ginger groups (eg. the
Democratic Leadership Council) or individuals (eg. Mark Latham). Thirdly, the Third
Way verges on a form of culture, since it tends to centre around values such as
responsibility, community, and modernism.
Third Way Out
Ultimately, while electoral exigencies have affected the fortunes of the Third Way, they
are insufficient to explain its decline over recent years. And while Third Way adherents
might like to claim that they have set the boundaries for serious political debate among
social democrats, it seems at least as likely that the Third Way largely attached a label to
changes that had taken place in the 1980s and 1990s.
The main reason the Third Way has diminished in relevance is its failure to provide
sufficient guidance to policymakers on everyday policy challenges. The Third Way lacks
the coherence of established ideologies such as liberalism and socialism. Indeed, it is
even arguable that it does not amount to a political ideology at all.
Over the past two decades, social democratic parties across the developed world have
moved towards more market-oriented policies. The Third Way may be a useful way to
describe this transition within social democracy; but it is much less useful as an ongoing
strategy for parties of the mainstream left. As in the past, social democratic parties must
develop new ideas or risk atrophying. But it is unlikely that the ideas which make up the
Third Way will contribute much of substance to this process.
Figure 1: The Rise and Fall of the Third Way – in newspapers
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 Articles with “third way” in the headline or lead paragraph
Australia: Age, Australian, Australian Financial Review, Courier Mail, Sydney Morning Herald.
UK: Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, Times
US: Boston Globe, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, Washington Post
Figure 2: The Rise and Fall of the Third Way – in academic journals
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Number of articles with “third way” in the citation
Sources: Worldwide from LexisNexis; Australian from APAIS.
PhD student, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. The author may be contacted
at [email protected] Thanks to Perri 6, Michael Fullilove, Jim Gillespie, Murray Goot,
Ben Heraghty, Sandy Pitcher and Justin Wolfers for stimulating discussions and valuable comments on
Though Giddens favours a notion of “reflexive modernism” – in which society’s social order is constantly
revised: see Beck, U, Giddens, A and Lash, S. 1994. Reflexive Modernisation. Cambridge: Polity Press
This sense of déjà vu from the mainstream ALP contrasted with the reception that the Third Way received
from the right, with one commentator describing it as “highfalutin sentiment” (McGuinness, P. 1998.
“Strong leaning to pragmatic in Blair’s way”, Sydney Morning Herald. 12 November, 17), and the left, who
dubbed it “Thatcherism with a new fig leaf” (Henning, C. 1998. “Thatcherism with a new fig leaf”. Sydney
Morning Herald. 12 October, 17). At this point, I should confess to having been one of a minority who
argued in 1998-99 that Australian policymakers should take more notice of the Third Way (Leigh, A. 1998.
“Not left or right, but something in between”. Canberra Times. 26 October; Leigh, A. 1999. “Review of
Anthony Giddens, ‘The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy’”. Australian Journal of Political
Science. 34(2): 295).
For example, Latham published a “Third Way” newspaper column for some time, and set up a personal
website with the name www.thirdway-aust.com.
For Gallop’s views on the Third Way, see Gallop, G. 2001. “Is There a Third Way?” In P Nursey-Bray
and C.L Bacchi, Left Directions: Is there a Third Way? Perth, WA: University of Western Australia Press.
For a sampling of Latham’s views on the Third Way, see Latham, M. 2001. “Reinventing Collectivism:
The New Social Democracy. Paper delivered at Third Way Conference, Centre for Applied Economic
Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 12 July 2001; Latham, M. 2001. “The Third Way: An
Outline” In A Giddens (ed) The Global Third Way Debate. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. 25-35; Latham,
M. 2001c. “In Defence of the Third Way” In P Nursey-Bray and C.L Bacchi, Left Directions: Is there a
Third Way? Perth, WA: University of Western Australia Press. 21-31.
On future prospects for the Third Way in the US, see Judis, J. 2002. “Is the Third Way Finished?” The
American Prospect 13(12).
For example, January 2000 saw Blair promise to raise British health expenditure to the European average
Another strand of writing contends that the Third Way has been unsuccessful because it has failed to
tackle the “hard questions” of the socialist left. See for example Newman, D and de Zoysa, R. 2001. The
Promise of the Third Way: Globalization and Social Justice. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New
See Callaghan, J. 2000. The Retreat of Social Democracy. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press;
Piven, F.F. 1991. “The Decline of Labor Parties: An Overview” in Francis Fox Piven (ed). Labor Parties in
Postindustrial Societies. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. 1-19.
Labour leaders Neil Kinnock, John Smith and Tony Blair all worked to reduce the role of the left and
“Militant Tendency” in the party during the late-1980s and early-1990s. This process culminated in Blair’s
1995 removal of Clause IV (which advocated “common ownership of the means of production, distribution
and exchange”) from the Labour Party constitution.
On debates within the ALP during the 1980s, see Jaensch, D. 1989. The Hawke-Keating Hijack. The ALP
in Transition. Sydney: Allen and Unwin; Johnson, C. 1989. The Labor Legacy: Curtin, Chifley, Whitlam,
Hawke. Sydney: Allen & Unwin; Maddox, G. 1989. The Hawke Government and Labor Tradition.
Ringwood, Vic: Penguin. On the influence of Australian policies on the British Labour Party, see Pierson,
C and Castles, F. 2002. “Australian Antecedents of the Third Way” Political Studies. 50: 683-702.
I am grateful to Perri 6 for suggesting this approach.
Eatwell, R. 1999. “Introduction: What are Political Ideologies?” in R Eatwell and A Wright (eds)
Contemporary Political Ideologies. 2nd ed. London & New York: Pinter. 1-22 at 17. On the definition of a
polticial ideology, see also Vincent, A. 1995. Modern Political Ideologies. 2nd ed. Oxford, UK &
Cambridge, USA: Blackwell. There is an significant debate in the literature on the extent to which
ideologies need to be grounded in theory and practice: see Mannheim, K. 1936 . Ideology and
Utopia: An Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul; Oakeshott,
M. 1967. Rationalism in Politics. London: Meuthen, 123-25; Freeden, M. 2000. “Practising Ideology and
Ideological Practices”. Political Studies. 8: 302-322.
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