Sheri Berman

Professor of Political Science
Barnhard College, New York
“Social Democracy and the Stabilization of Democracy in Europe”
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
12:30 pm - C103 Hesburgh Center

During the 19th and first half of the 20th century Europe was the most turbulent region on earth, convulsed by war, economic crises and social and political conflict.  Yet during the second half of the 20th century it was among the most stable, a study in democracy, social harmony, and prosperity.  How can we understand this remarkable transformation?  The answer lies in the changes that occurred after 1945, among the most important of which was a dramatic shift in the understanding of what it would take to ensure democratic consolidation in Europe.  Across the political spectrum a new understanding of democracy developed in Western Europe, one that went beyond what we think of today as "electoral" or even "liberal" democracy to what is best understood as "social democracy"—a regime type which entails not merely dramatic changes in political arrangements but in social and economic ones as well.  This talk will explain the background and logic of this "regime type" as well as consider its continuing relevance today.