Comp-post: Lane and Ersson (1999)

These  notes are admittedly incomplete, but pull out highlights from the first section of the book, which is a good overview of the evolution of the welfare state in Europe. Will get start doing more summaries than outlines soon, but finishing a few papers in the next few days. –Erik

Lane, Jan-Erik, and Svante Ersson.  1999.  Politics and Society in Western Europe (4th ed.).  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Introduction: A Neo-Tocquevillean Approach (1)
●    examining the democratic development of the 18 larger W. European states (omits the 5 smaller)
●    politics sparked by conflicts within society and by competition among organized groups (2-3)
●    1950-65: end of ideology (3) – post-industrialism was expected to be a significant departure from industrial society, and concerns about rising apathy meant that “participation became a major goal of pol systems in W Europe” (3)
●    1965-80: rejection of political authority (4) – modernization was expected to remove ethnicity and religion as pol cleavages, however “the theories of the end of ideology, the apathy of the electorate, and the modernization of society when confronted with the turbulence of the late 1960s and 1970s suddenly appeared to be rather obsolete.”
— fragility of pol structures and legitimacy
— demand for group representation in decision-making and govt dissatisfaction created new parties (5)
— increasingly complex pol environment of the 1970s decreased party stability and economic troubles led to the questioning of the welfare state (6)
●    1980-95: crisis of the welfare state and European integration (6) – economic troubles created an ‘efficiency crisis’ of the welfare state, which combined with the legitimacy crisis of the preceding years
●    upsurge of “right-wing market philosophy” in the 1980s (7)
●    accelerating European integration has resulted in increased interdependence, but the authors contend that the states remain distinct enough for comparative analysis (7-8)
●    cyclical pattern of European pol developments – need for a theory that explains this pattern (8)
●    Framework – democratic institutions in a market economy (8)
— focusing on civil society and the state, which they argue is what Tocqueville did
— elaborates Tocqueville’s model – which is basically the same as theirs – private sector/civil society vs public sector/state interacting with varying degrees of centralization, which results in outcomes in the form of liberty, equality, and stability (9-10)
— modernity as consistent with Tocqueville’s assessment
— distinctions between positive and negative liberty, and formal and real equality (11) – the state seeks/enforces positive liberty and elaborates formal equality, whereas the private sector seeks negative liberty and equality as played out there may be significantly different than it exists in ideal form
— the interaction (degree and nature of conflict?) between private sectors and the state is determined by the health of the private sector and on the degree of decentralization (11)
●    Social structure vs political institutions (12)
— parties as intermediaries between society and the state
— “danger of structural determinism” (12) – “political phenomena…merely as a function of the structure of society.”
— opposite is new institutionalism – which also risks the danger of “social indeterminism” (12)
— problems inherent to pol stability framework: 1- defining pol stability and 2- confining stability as merely system maintenance (14)

Chapter 1 – The Market Economy (17)
●    market economies lead/strengthen civil societies, by extension strengthening democracy
●    Tocqueville predicted two paths for industrial societies: one of inequality and aristocracy and one of rising wages and stabilizing equality. Lane and Ersson argue that the second is applicable to modern W. European states

Chapter 2 – Cleavages (37)
●    Cleavage theory (37) – Almond; Rokkan
●    Concept of cleavage (39) – L & E settle on these as the primary forms of cleavage: religion, ethnicity, and class, with class being the most “coherent” (72)
●    religion and ethnicity are often thought of as the most pertinent cleavages, but class appears to be the most salient
●    cleavages as manifest or latent, often determined by party mobilization (74)

Chapter 3 – Political Parties (76)
●    shifting nature of parties (77)
●    structural vs. nonstructural parties (80-88)
●    formation of parties (91-93) – current parties tend to have a long history, the exception being Green parties which were formed in the 1970s and 80s (93)
●    declining party membership (103-106) – steady decline from about 1980
●    W. Europe has multi-party systems, which L & E compare to Tocqueville’s role of free associations in civil society – very important to the functioning of such a system (106)
●    parties as uniquely important because they orient citizens in broad ways where other associations tend to do so narrowly (107)
●    parties are highly adaptable, therefore long-lived

Chapter 4 – Parties and Voters (108)
●    “egalitarian nature of democratic society that may result in a floating electorate” (132)
●    parties as having vested interests in maintaining a base level of support – duh (173)
●    parties as previously relying on long-term support from specific individuals and groups, but now having a much smaller base of expected support – increased uncertainty due to less voting tradition among the electorate
●    “the likelihood of party system development is high when there is adaptive political change in an uncertain environment.” (133)

Chapter 5 – Party Systems (134)
●    party systems as resistant to major, rapid change – path dependency (150)
●    even so, stability is not the defining feature of W. European party systems
●    stages of party systems in W. Europe – table 5.10 on p. 151
●    emergence of cartel parties – professionalized core and subsidized by the state – problematic because it blurs the line between state and society (151)

Contents of Remainder of Book:

Chapter 6 – Decision-making Institutions: Autonomy (153)
Chapter 7 – Decision-making Systems: Influence (191)
Chapter 8 – European Integration (237)
Chapter 9 – Issues (264)

Chapter 10 – Political Stability
Chapter 11 – Public Sector Growth and the Welfare State
Chapter 12 – Conclusion (342)

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