third way

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Generally, any ideology that claims that it lies in between two traditional approaches that the writer believes are too limited. Specifically, the ideology claimed to underlie the actions of New Labour in Britain after the succession of Tony Blair to the leadership of the Labour Party in 1994. In this case, the two old ways are often understood to be socialism and capitalism. However, both its main ideologue in the UK (Anthony Giddens) and Prime Minister Blair emphasized that it was supposed to be a modernized form of social democracy, rather than an alternative to it.

Although critics of the New Labour Third Way claimed that it had no empirical content, its defenders saw it as a route between what was seen as the excessive paternalism (and statism) of traditional left policies and the excessive individual personal responsibility of the right. The policy of welfare to work—dubbed ‘tough love’ by British thirdwayers—was an early example: a combination of a greater emphasis on personal responsibility to find work backed with the threat of withdrawal of benefits, but at the same time a reinforcing of a framework of public support. For a while in the late 1990s, the German Social Democratic Party imitated New Labour with a claim to pursue die neue Mitte, but that claim too disappeared in the 2000s. The concept has a modest salience in the USA where it became central to the philosophy of the Democratic Leadership Council, the centrist pressure group in the Democrats. See also social exclusion; social market.

Subjects: Politics.

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