The Role of Discourse in the Political Dynamics of Adjustment in Britain, France, and Germany

Vivien A. Schmidt

in The Futures of European Capitalism

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780199253685
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600210 | DOI:
The Role of Discourse in the Political Dynamics of Adjustment in Britain, France, and Germany

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The different trajectories of Britain, France, and Germany cannot be understood without reference to the substantive content and interactive processes of their discourses of policy construction and legitimization. The sustainability of Britain's early, radical move to neo‐liberal policies and more market capitalist practices has much to do with political actors’ transformative, communicative discourse that convinced the public that change was both necessary and appropriate in monetary policy, industrial policy, labour policy, as well as in the social assistance areas of social policy. France's later, more moderate neo‐liberal policies and its radical transformation of state capitalism owe much to political actors’ communicative discourse that was convincing on the necessity of reform in monetary and industrial policy arenas, but was unable to speak to the appropriateness of reform in social policy until the late 1990s. Finally, Germany's long delay on reform of its economic policies as well as of its managed capitalist practices are in part the result of the difficulties of generating a coordinative discourse capable of building agreement among policy actors on either the necessity or appropriateness of reform of the ‘social market economy’, in particular with regard to social and labour policy change.

Keywords: Britain; communicative discourse; coordinative discourse; discourse; France; Germany; industrial policy; labour policy; monetary policy; social policy

Chapter.  20299 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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