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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Polity (May 18 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745624502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745624501
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 13.9 x 22 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #495,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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The idea of finding a third way in politics has become a focus of controversy across the world. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
Perhaps the most problematic aspect of Third Way 'talk' (or "Blair-speak" as it is known in Britain) is that it often sounds like a big pile of BS. It exhorts civic virtue, but then appears to be Margaret Thatcher: the sequel. This is because Third Way politics are essentially a refutation of left-right thinking--this is what this book excels at conveying.
Tony Giddens offers a concise, but clear, discussion of what the Third Way is all about, and if a reader approaches the text with a willingness to think outside of the left-right consciousness, then it offers a significant contribution to new thinking about politics. It reconceptualizes politics as the continual reconciliation of the failure of governments and markets. It is, at its simplest, about appreciating that meaningful political thinking requires reflexivity and a willingness to change opinions and policies as circumstances change around us. It is not about selling-out to the capitalists; it is not about tax-and-spend politics. This is a book about solutions.
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Format: Paperback
"Trying to in down an exact meaning in all this" wrote the Economist back in 1998 "is like wrestling an inflatable man. If you get a grip on one limb, all the hot air rushes to another."
Two years on, and the inflatable man is back. There is no shortage of hot air rushing from place to place in this sequal to The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy. There's almost nothing to disagree with here -- which is part of the problem.
The story so far goes something like this: the good guys in politics are called 'social democrats'. They care about things like equality and a fair deal for the underdog. The bad guys are called 'neoliberals.' They go round beating people with handbags and making jokes about bombing the Soviet Union. Their aim is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. But there's a problem. Up until now being a social democrat has meant responding to every new social problem with an increase in the size and scope of government (tax and spend). However during the 1980s most left-leaning politicians figured out that was exactly the kind of thing which lost elections. So around the world, left of center governments abandoned Keynsianism, cracked down on welfare and started privatizing. And the he voters liked it. But this success also created a problem. The chattering classes accused their politicians of selling out to neoliberalism.
So this is where Giddens steps in. While the third way worked well in practice, to convince the critics it also needs to work in theory. Giddens sets out to persuade the intellectual left that the third way is sheep in wolf's clothing. Sure on the outside it looks like a toned-down version of Reagan/Thatcher but deep down it's a caring sharing lamb.
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By A Customer on April 29 2000
Format: Paperback
In Britain, it's become commonplace to dismiss the Third Way as an ideologically incoherent mess: a label in search of an ideology to attatch itself to. Tony Giddens doesn't do much to clear things up: in fact, this book is a prime exemplar of the sort of the woolly, not-quite-thoroughly-thought-out rhetoric that gives New Labour a bad name.
Much of this THIN tome is spent on self-evident bromides. Environmental degradation = bad. Solidarity = good. The distinction between left and right ain't what it used to be. You don't say! The rest is taken up by pious good intentions about social democracy renewing itself. Any second-rate political speech writer could've come up with roughly the same set of homilies.
Giddens is a brilliant sociologist, but this book never gets off the ground. It's too bad, really, because Blair style new-new-leftism really could use a coherent defense from a skilfull theorist. Instead, what it gets out of this book is a half baked homily that betrays an alarming degree of political naivete for such an eminent social scientists. It's a mess, really.
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Format: Paperback
If you know a little about general stuff, you'll know who's Giddens. He's not a newbie on the sociology scene. Moreover, he's one of Tony Blair's advisors (consultants). I think this book takes the Third way in a serious way, and that it's the Third Way in itself. Read it if you are interested in the subject, if not, do it anyway, you'll be interested after reading...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
An Answer of sorts April 25 2000
By Third Way ( ) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The basic thrust of this book is an argument to balance the undoubted energy of capitalism with the need to foster social solidarity and civic values. Giddens states that : "The third way suggests that it is possible to combine social solidarity with a dynamic economy, and this is a goal contemporary social democrats should strive for." (page 5)
Giddens points out that national governments are limited by historical developments in how far they can manage economic life and provide social benefits. His ideas are taken seriously by political leaders like Blair and Clinton.
Others, however, remain distinctly unimpressed. This book has been written to answer those critics (and I must declare I'm proud to be numbered amongst them). The best of his critics come from the Left. Our main point is that his third way would leave power and wealth relations largely unaffected and that he is pursuing an agenda dictated by multi-national corporations. Does Giddens answer his critics? The answer I would give is a qualified yes. Whilst stressing the benefits of a market economy he recognises the tension that exists between it and "other life values". He suggests some interesting reforms aimed at balancing seemingly contradictory trends.Curiously, however, he has little to say on empowering people in their working lives. The creativity and energy he wants to harness for civic work is to go to waste in the workplace. His desire to get people active in voluntary work and politics does not extend to making them more active participants in workplace decisions (where a great deal of their life is actually spent). This is a great pity. I would like to see Giddens comment more on workers trusts and co-operative ventures.
This book is worth reading because it is part of the process of a debate which is vital. It is not, however, by any means a final statement. The critics still have much to say.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Great writer, dreadful book April 29 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In Britain, it's become commonplace to dismiss the Third Way as an ideologically incoherent mess: a label in search of an ideology to attatch itself to. Tony Giddens doesn't do much to clear things up: in fact, this book is a prime exemplar of the sort of the woolly, not-quite-thoroughly-thought-out rhetoric that gives New Labour a bad name.
Much of this THIN tome is spent on self-evident bromides. Environmental degradation = bad. Solidarity = good. The distinction between left and right ain't what it used to be. You don't say! The rest is taken up by pious good intentions about social democracy renewing itself. Any second-rate political speech writer could've come up with roughly the same set of homilies.
Giddens is a brilliant sociologist, but this book never gets off the ground. It's too bad, really, because Blair style new-new-leftism really could use a coherent defense from a skilfull theorist. Instead, what it gets out of this book is a half baked homily that betrays an alarming degree of political naivete for such an eminent social scientists. It's a mess, really.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Appreciating Subtlety March 2 2002
By "bostrom1302" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Perhaps the most problematic aspect of Third Way 'talk' (or "Blair-speak" as it is known in Britain) is that it often sounds like a big pile of BS. It exhorts civic virtue, but then appears to be Margaret Thatcher: the sequel. This is because Third Way politics are essentially a refutation of left-right thinking--this is what this book excels at conveying.
Tony Giddens offers a concise, but clear, discussion of what the Third Way is all about, and if a reader approaches the text with a willingness to think outside of the left-right consciousness, then it offers a significant contribution to new thinking about politics. It reconceptualizes politics as the continual reconciliation of the failure of governments and markets. It is, at its simplest, about appreciating that meaningful political thinking requires reflexivity and a willingness to change opinions and policies as circumstances change around us. It is not about selling-out to the capitalists; it is not about tax-and-spend politics. This is a book about solutions.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Decent and lucid defense of third-way politics Dec 14 2004
By alexliamw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As others have pointed out, the aims of this book are rather obvious - to provide a well-backed and academically stated justification for Tony Blair's third way policies and to show that they are consistent with social democrat thinking. Personally I don't subscribe to third way thinking, but this is a decent defense of it and raises some interesting points. It does tend towards the obvious and can drift into truist observations (or perhaps these observations are used to justify more contestable conclusions).

Third way is an interesting topic and it would be fascinating to read an in-depth and impartial analysis of how it has grown up. This book is not that, though it never claimed to be. It is essentially written as an accessible, lucid account for the layman, which it succeeds at, and simultaneously a refutation of criticisms, which it is possible less successful with. It doesn't really engage with the most basic objections to the very idea of what seems a compromising, vote-seeking formula of the power hungry who have been forced to accept ideas fundamentally at odds with those they are heir to, leading to a valiant but ultimately unconvincing attempt to portray them as one and the same.

I won't pass judgement on third way thinking or Blair, though, as that's not really the object of writing reviews. What I would say is this is a worthwhile and interesting volume if you want a brief but relatively comprehensive (at a basic level) case for the third way.
12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
The return of the inflatable man Oct. 7 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Trying to in down an exact meaning in all this" wrote the Economist back in 1998 "is like wrestling an inflatable man. If you get a grip on one limb, all the hot air rushes to another."
Two years on, and the inflatable man is back. There is no shortage of hot air rushing from place to place in this sequal to The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy. There's almost nothing to disagree with here -- which is part of the problem.
The story so far goes something like this: the good guys in politics are called 'social democrats'. They care about things like equality and a fair deal for the underdog. The bad guys are called 'neoliberals.' They go round beating people with handbags and making jokes about bombing the Soviet Union. Their aim is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. But there's a problem. Up until now being a social democrat has meant responding to every new social problem with an increase in the size and scope of government (tax and spend). However during the 1980s most left-leaning politicians figured out that was exactly the kind of thing which lost elections. So around the world, left of center governments abandoned Keynsianism, cracked down on welfare and started privatizing. And the he voters liked it. But this success also created a problem. The chattering classes accused their politicians of selling out to neoliberalism.
So this is where Giddens steps in. While the third way worked well in practice, to convince the critics it also needs to work in theory. Giddens sets out to persuade the intellectual left that the third way is sheep in wolf's clothing. Sure on the outside it looks like a toned-down version of Reagan/Thatcher but deep down it's a caring sharing lamb. Social democratic practice is past its use-by date, but there's no need, says Giddens, to identify social democracy with specific policies. Instead, social democratic goals can be expressed through new policies--like making welfare recipients work, getting tough on crime and cutting the bureaucracy. It's all a matter of how you look at it.
In Britain and Europe the term 'social democracy' has become a kind of brand name with some serious brand loyalty. Giddens is fighting to keep that brand for the new product line. It's a bit like Levi Strauss saying "sure they're not jeans... but they ARE Levis and you know how much you like those."

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