• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Politics and Society in Western Europe is a comprehensive introduction for students of West European politics and of comparative politics. This new edition has been extensively revised and updated to meet with the new needs of undergraduate students as they come to terms with a changing social and political landscape in Europe.

This textbook provides a full analysis of the political systems of 18 Western European countries, their political parties, elections, and party systems, as well as the structures of government at local, regional, national and European Union levels.

Throughout the book, key theoretical ideas are accessibly introduced and examined against the very latest empirical data on civil society and the state.

The Market Economy
The market economy

As the West European democracies experienced staggering economic growth after the Second World War scholars began to speak of the affluent society (Galbraith, 1958) and the welfare state (Wilensky, 1975). These developments are connected with the immense growth of the market economy in Western Europe, as predicted by Tocqueville. He stated that the acquisitive spirit of industrial society gave social relations a special character:

When everyone is constantly striving to change his position, when an immense field for competition is thrown open to all, when wealth is amassed or dissipated in the shortest possible space of time amid the turmoil of democracy, visions of sudden and easy fortunes, of great possessions easily won and lost, of chance under all forms haunt the ...

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