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‘All poke and no soak?’: interpreting the labour party
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 22:04 authored by Tim Bale
Some books try to do a bit too much and consequently end up achieving less than they might. This may well be one of them. Bevir’s book offers us a history of political science, a manifesto for the interpretative approach to politics, and a critique of New Labour. It also attempts to weave together these three strands by arguing that the party’s current leadership has bought into the new institutionalism (essentially the idea that institutions help determine behaviour and outcomes) in order to respond to change in a manner that might prove consonant with, rather than mark a radical departure from, Labour’s complex and malleable social democratic heritage. Some of what Bevir says seems to me to make very good sense. Some of it is more problematic. Taken as a whole, though, it might well disappoint people who saw his recent work with Rod Rhodes (Bevir and Rhodes, 2003) as a muchneeded call to arms for those who believe that meanings and understandings – transmitted by and constitutive of traditions, researchable via ethnographic ‘soaking and poking’ – still matter as much as incentives and institutions.
JournalHistory of the Human Sciences
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- Politics Publications
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