Losing social democracy
Reflections on the erosion of a paradigmatic case of social democracy
in European social democracy during the global economic crisis
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Swedish social democracy has long since lost its hegemonic position in domestic politics. Nevertheless, the situation since 2006 is itself relevant to our understanding of the way that social democracy's capacity of action in the present suffers from a series of historical mistakes that it has performed over time. The particular historical events addressed here is the restructuring process of the 1990s. This chapter argues that the consequences of these mistakes are today actively circumscribing social democracy's capacity for reformism on the strategic as well as on the ideological level. Social democrat policy makers in Sweden and elsewhere have, at least since the 1990s, have understood the market as a central vehicle for politics and for the active building of middle-class values and individual preferences. The institutional shifts in the Swedish welfare state have been accompanied by a massive shift in resources, and in some cases important speculative effects.

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