The road to no alternative: the failure of projects for the socialisation of investment in Western Europe, 1970-1991
Dr Robin Archer (Department of Sociology) and Dr. Bob Hancké (European Institute)
Socialist and social democratic parties, socialisation of investment, comparative historical sociology, political economy, political sociology, crises of the 1970s, origins of neoliberalism
My research asks why projects for the socialisation of investment failed in Western Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. Using comparative historical analysis and drawing on a combination of archival and published material from the time as well as interviews, it examines three cases of such failed projects in socialist and social democratic governments in the UK (the National Enterprise Board), Sweden (wage-earner funds) and France (the nationalisation programme of the Socialist Party) during the 1970s and 1980s. By situating these failures in a wider debate about low or declining investment in this period, it suggests that a choice was faced by social democrats to tackle tensions between redistributive politics and privately-controlled investment either by expanding the role of the state and labour in the investment process, or by reducing their role and pairing back redistributive politics in order to promote privately-controlled investment. By seeking to explain why social democratic governments chose the latter course rather than the former, it therefore aims to contribute to our understanding of the early stages of the transition towards ‘neoliberalim’ in the policies of social democratic parties in the 1970s and 1980s. Secondly, and more broadly, it seeks to improve our understanding of the socialist and social democratic parties’ relationship with capitalism. It particular, it seeks to gain greater insight into to the politics of projects that seeks to challenge or alter existing systems of capitalist accumulation.