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Book Review: The State In Western Europe Retreat Or Redefinition?

833 words - 3 pages





Wolfgang C. Müller and Vincent Wright (eds.)

1994, Frank Cass, Essex

This edited book comprises of a collection of valuable essays on the role of the state in Western Europe in response to the allegations that ` the state is in retreat'. The first article of the volume is the one by the editors in which developments such as globalisation, the rise of the neo-liberal paradigm and European integration are analysed as the sources of the debate on the retreat of the European nation state.

The specification of the sources of change is followed by Herbert Döring's work that analyses public perceptions of the role of the state. He conducts a quantitative research on the shifts of European citizens' values and concludes that in parallel to the governments' attempts to roll back the state, the public has also shifted from the `social democratic consensus' to a `neo-liberal admittance of market forces' but as long as their basic services are looked after by the government. This neo-liberal consensus thesis is afterwards verified by Müller, this time on the part of the political parties.

After having focused on the prevalence of neo-liberalism, its impacts coupled partly by the effects of European integration are analysed within the framework of several policy areas. Within this context, Talos and Falkner, in their analysis of the role of the state within social policy, demonstrate that the role of the state within social policy became redefined by becoming more connected to economic conditions due to the increasing internationalisation of the economy that left less room for national strategies; by the differentiation of state regulations as exemplified in the spread of atypical forms of work and by the decentralisation of social regulations by giving increased importance to collective agreements, enterprise level agreements and individual agreements. Giandomenico Majone, in the following essay, reaches a similar conclusion concerning the redefined role of the state in the face of privatisation and deregulation by arguing that these have created the conditions for the...


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