The Role of Public Discourse in European Social Democratic Reform Projects

28 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2005


Public discourse, understood both as ideas about public action and interactive processes that serve to 'coordinate' the construction of those ideas and to 'communicate' them to the public, has been central to the success (or failure) of the reform projects of social democratic parties. Certain background factors, including countries' policy legacies, problems, preferences, and capacity set the stage for reform while good ideas which are cognitively sound and normatively appropriate as well as relevant, coherent, and consistent contribute to reform success. But institutional context also matters with regard to how ideas are conveyed to whom, with 'simple' polities emphasizing the 'communicative' discourse to the general public and more 'compound' polities the 'coordinative' discourse among policy actors. This is demonstrated with examples from Germany, France, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden.

Keywords: Social democracy, social policy, ideas, deliberative democracy, discourse, Germany, France, U.K., Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, political science

Suggested Citation

Schmidt, Vivien, The Role of Public Discourse in European Social Democratic Reform Projects. Available at SSRN:

Vivien Schmidt (Contact Author)

Boston University ( email )

152 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215
617-358-0192 (Phone)
617-353-9290 (Fax)


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