Third Way Sociology

  • Will Leggett


This book is premised on the view that Third Way analysis, which has informed New Labour and other modernising social democratic parties, is essentially sociological. It is no coincidence that the leading Third Way intellectual, Anthony Giddens, is a sociologist. The Third Way is not based primarily on political-philosophical claims about what makes the ‘good society’. Instead it is derived from an account of large-scale, rapid social transformations that the centre-left must adapt to, with globalisation being the most significant. Of course, this does not mean that Third Way politicians (or even sociologists!) do not have values, or ideas about how they think society ought to be. There has been a protracted debate about what constitutes New Labour values, and Blair and others often claim that their project is value-driven (see Chapter 2). But there is no doubt that the impulse behind Third Way theory and rhetoric is a belief that the world is changing in ways that call into question some of our most basic political assumptions. Claims of this type are nothing new; the political analyses of, for example, nineteenth-century sociologists such as Marx and Durkheim were based on the dilemmas posed by a rapidly emerging industrial capitalism. But, from the outset, the Third Way’s appeal to a changed world has been particularly acute.


Welfare State Economic Globalisation Social Democracy Social Democrat Political Agency 
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  1. 1.
    Driver and Martell New Labour (1998), p. 27.Google Scholar
  2. 16.
    Blair The Third Way (1998), p. 6.Google Scholar
  3. 38.
    Krieger British Politics in the Global Age (1999).Google Scholar
  4. 39.
    Giddens The Third Way and Its Critics (2000), p. 43.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Will Leggett 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Will Leggett
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BirminghamUK

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