The research question is ‘Do social democratic policies limit growth and efficiency in the economy?’ Many experts argue that social democratic states are actually powerless and defenseless. They assert that countries with such regimes are usually characterized by high budget deficits, low industrial regulation, privatization of welfare state systems and instituting tax cuts. There is a need to look into these issues and come up with recommendations on whether the claims are in fact true.
Formulation of the problem
In the European Union, numerous countries have instituted social democratic parties. However, in the recent years, these countries have not been performing well. Taking the example of the United Kingdom -Prime Minister Gordon Brown has slumped down in performance. Also, countries such as Spain recorded surprises in terms of the performance of their economy. Similarly, France has not been doing very well either. This is because the country’s socialist leaders have undergone numerous challenges over the past few years. As if this is not enough, Germany, which is currently run by a coalition government is having problems amongst member parties with social democrats included. Also, in Italy, its coalition of center left collapsed.
An attempt to develop assumptions for the hypothesis
The hypothesis mentioned in the introduction are ‘social democratic parties limit the growth and efficiency of economies’ This hypothesis has numerous assumptions. (Saunders et al, 2003) For instance, it is assumed that the nature of the policies within this respective country are in fact linked to the political system. It also assumed that other factors inherent in respective countries are so small that it can be ignored.
Overall research approach
Before getting into details about the overall research approach, it is essential to clarify the fact that the research will have a positivistic philosophy. In this case, a hypothesis has been formulated about social democracy. Consequently, the research aims at ascertaining that theory is in fact true. Through the research, one can be able to familiarize himself/herself with the research problem. The research will also focus on facts that prevail within the research environment. There will be collection of data, which will then be analyzed and results presented in statistical means to either nullify or validate the theory. (Bell and Bryman, 2003)
In terms of the research approach, this research will have elements of deductive and inductive reasoning however, the most predominant one will be deductive reasoning. In this case, the research is using a positivistic approach. A theory has already been established and the purpose of the research is to affirm or reject the theory by gathering evidence. The following will be some of the qualities that make the research approach inductive
- Application of scientific principles
- Movement form a hypothesis/theory to collection of data
- Quantitative data will be collected
- Concepts will be operationalized
- Controls will be applied to incorporate validity
- Variables will have causal explanations
- The researcher will be independent of the research
- It is a structured approach
- Will require high sample size.
Frame of reference
The current state of the social democratic states may be summarized as follows; most countries are undergoing serious financial and economic problems. The issue of the credit crunch has been plaguing numerous social democratic states. There is a sub-prime problem in European continents because a large number of corporations are plagued with debts. Besides the latter, countries are also faced with problems of mixed loan packages. These issues have caused a lot of criticism from former social democrats who have opted to leave the party or from other political parties such as economic liberalists and the radical socialists. The latter group asserts that social democracy is not the way to tackle today’s problems. They claim that social democrats have instituted policies which make it impossible for businesses to operate under a free market. On the other hand, the radical socialists argue that social democrats are overly dependent on capitalist systems to establish some sort of reform within the state. Consequently, it has become very difficult for social democratic governments to continue in operation given the latter issues.
It should be noted that most states are actually battling with issues surrounding the re-introduction of certain social democratic principles. For instance, they want to deregulate, create a balance in privatization, re-focus corporate management among others. All the latter issues are supposed to be the task of social democrats but it seems as though the latter group are failing.
In light of these issues, it seems as if there is a party to blame for the ongoing issues in the later mentioned countries. It is therefore necessary for one to ascertain whether the respective party system have caused those prevailing problems as will be seen in the subsequent portions of the essay.
Methods: a combination
There will be a combination of methods through a process known as triangulation. (Saunders et al, 2003) Sociologists and scientists alike define triangulation as the process in which a number of research methods are used to ensure that deficiencies in one methodology are compensated by the strengths in another methodology. The research will employ the use of secondary and primary data. Primary data will be conducted through structured interviews. As mentioned earlier, participants will be political analysts who are family with some international political systems especially those ones with social democratic ideologies. The structured interviews will be conducted by asking participants about their opinions on the research question. Through this method, those who fail to understand the questions can clarify and it also increases the response rate since interviewees can see who they are communicating with.
The second approach will be through the use of secondary data. The reason why secondary data was chosen is that other authors have already looked into the topic. However, inferences have not been made about the research hypothesis. Secondary data will allow a quick analysis of macro-economic issues that can be difficult to obtain through the use of primary research. Besides that, secondary data allows a narrower focus into the issues rather than spending too much time dealing with non-issues. This is usually the case with primary research. Through secondary research, findings from primary research will be validated and also there will be an examination of whether those respective issues studied in the primary research actually collude with previous research. Besides the latter, secondary research will save on time and money. (Yates, 2004)
Selection of people for the study
There are two types of sampling frames in any research. The first type is the use of existing frames while the second type is through the use of a constructed frame. Existing frames are usually records of relevant information about the research’s interests. In this regard, when one decides to use an existing frame, then they will be only considering pre-existing issues. This may present ethical dilemmas in the research. Ethical, problems can arise in stances where respondents who participated in the first survey feel burdened by having to take part in another piece of research. Also, due to attrition, it may be necessary for one to look into the intricate issues of obtaining permission.
In this case, the frame of sampling will be constructed. What this means is that that one can establish for themselves a list of potential participants and then a suitable sample collected from there. In this case, the topic is on social democracy. Consequently, the participants must be well informed about the topic and they must have ample knowledge about political science. Consequently, the sampling frame will consist of a series of political analysts within the country. However, focused enumeration will be done to ensure that only those groups that meet minimum requirements are incorporated in the interview. This will be ascertained by interviewing the respondents. Most of the participants of the interview should be familiar with political ideologies in general and social democratic systems in particular. A number of telephone addresses will be used for this purpose. The potential participants will be called and given a short questionnaire to find out if they meet these respective qualities. Those that do will be the potential participants.
The last portion about participation will be with regard to the actual recording of the participants. In this case, participants must be wiling to take part in the survey. It becomes particularly difficult to estimate who will accept or reject participation in the research until the actual day when it happens. Consequently, it would be necessary to be prepared for this. The sample size will be relatively large as thirty participants will be required for the research. A larger sampling frame will be created of fifty people in order to leave room for any eventualities. The participants will represent six firms with five representatives from each category.
Analysis of validity and reliability
Validity and reliability will be ensured by checking on the level of synchronization between primary and secondary data. Also, care will be taken in establishing an accurate sampling frame and hence sampling strategy. (Yates, 2004)
Problems in the study
A number of issues can be raised in the process of conducting the research. For instance, some participants may choose not to take part in the interview. This will give a low response rate and will thus affect the accuracy of the findings.
It may also be a problem trying to obtain the right political analysts. Since this is a topic that does not deal directly with the country’s political ideology, then responses my not be very well founded. Additionally, the sampling strategy may present some problems because interviewees may not take the issue of answering some questions across their telephone well. This means that the participants might be self selective i.e. the research may only rely on opinions of receptive people and not necessary competent political analysts.
There is the danger that the primary research might not yield resultants corresponding to secondary data. In the event that the relationship between social democracy and the economy is quite low, then it will be necessary to repeat the primary research. In this case, a larger sample size will be used. The reason behind this is that in order to infer that there is no relationship between two variables, then statisticians need to reduce their margin of error by using larger sample sizes. This may take up considerable resources and respondents may not be wiling to repeat the interview. Consequently, there will be a need to look for a fresh set of respondents.
Interviews as methods of collecting data have their own deficiencies. For instance, they are prone to interviewer bias. Sometimes participants may give answers that are expected of them rather than honest responses and this can impede the accuracy of the research.
2) Ways in which the research has been influenced by Chalmers
In Chalmers’ most recent book; How to Sink America, the author talks about certain critical issues that bear resemblance to this particular research. First of all, the book discusses the country’s potential economic collapse. In the process of addressing these issues, Chalmers focuses on some political ideologies that could have caused such problems within the country. For instance, he discusses matters such as poor educational systems, over expenditure within the country’s military system and the desire to dominate the world. These are all issues that have been brought about by poor political systems. The author establishes his theories about why the American economy is doing very poorly and then validates them using other frames of reference. The same approach will be used in this research. The research has already established that some of the issues affecting the social democratic states in Europe are due to those country’s political ideologies. Consequently, the purpose of the research will be to affirm this assertion. (Veal and Ticehurst, 2000)
Chalmers has also touched on numerous topics in the past that deal with political ideologies. Some of these books include MITI: The Japanese miracle and Communist power and Peasant nationalism. In all these books, the author first came up with theories and backed that up with data from a series of methods. Chalmers is fond of using a positivistic approach. He also uses a lot of inductive reasoning or his research. Since this is one of the most prominent political science writers, then many research designs has been designed to reflect the approaches of one of the most successful writers of this time.
Since the research will involve a combination of secondary and primary data, then one can assert that such an approach may have been derived from Charmers’ work. Chalmers employed sound scientific methodology in his books and this is the same thing being done in this research. . (Veal and Ticehurst, 2000)
3) Critical discussion of this discipline of political science
The discipline chosen for analysis is social democracy. Social democracy began in the nineteenth century and has since evolved over the years to what it is today. Some groups define social democracy as an ideology while other like to think of it as the state of a society. However, many pieces of literature prefer the use of the former rather than the latter approach. In the former definition, social democracy is a political ideology that aims at checking the excesses of capitalism or its dominance while at the same time incorporating some socialist tendencies. It should be noted here that social democracy differs from Marxism in that the former emphasizes on co-existence with capitalism while the latter focus on elimination of capitalists completely. The major route used by most social democrats to enforce change is through creation of organizations to minimize injustices, establishment of programs that can assist in the process of amelioration and also through state regulation. These methods are founded upon the principles of democracy and reformation of capitalism.
It should be noted that radical definitions of social democracy are widely not accepted by scholars. In fact, this has brought a lot of confusion about the difference between social democrats and democratic socialists. Democratic socialists are more radical than their counterparts. They are usually characterized by a large following of working class voters and interaction with left movements in the past. On the other hand, a socially democratic party would have the following traits
- Middle class voters
- Mainly leftist
- Market economy
It should be noted that the latter definitions are not necessarily fixed because certain countries may choose to forge their own definitions. Nonetheless, some international bodies or groups have agreed on certain common characteristics among social democratic states or parties. One such body is known as socialist international. This body claims that social democratic parties have largely socialist characteristics which are founded on the following; First of all, a socialist party needs to be founded on the concept of freedom. Its members must have both political and economic freedom. Besides the latter, it is necessary for a social democratic party to be just. This implies that members of such states ought to be exposed to equal opportunities. Lastly, socialists are usually characterized by a sense of compassion for those who are unduly oppressed. In this regard, they have a lot of solidarity amongst themselves.
While social democracy has evolved tremendously over the past decades, it is essential to examine some of the characteristics that apply in today’s definition of social democracy. Any state claiming to be socially democratic must have an economy that combines elements of both private and public enterprises. This means that that state should privatize a large chunk of their corporations. However, there should still be some elements of government subsidization in certain parts of the economy. For example:
- Child care
A socially democratic state must also be characterized by a system that does not provide too much power to the private sector. These countries ought to have certain bodies or systems that regulate the private sector. Such a step is necessary because it protects the interests of the electorate. Private enterprises have the ability to control prices or offer undue competition in their respective industries. This means that care should be taken to ensure that such scenarios do not occur. Additionally, private companies may also infringe the rights of their employees if left unchecked or they may subject their counterparts to undue competition. In light of the above, it is necessary for government bodies to step and check their powers.
A socially democratic state must also institute free and fair trade. Usually this means that a country must institute laws and polices that encourage the latter concepts. Besides that, they need to ensure that the policies are followed down to the letter at the grass root level.
Social security is another crucial part of this discipline. In this sense, citizens must be shielded from vulnerability to loss of income in certain eventualities. For instance, in scenarios where citizens have to retire, there should be some form of system to assist them in the process. A socially democratic state needs to ensure that their citizens do not loose employment or their means of earning a living due to small issues such as retirement or illness. Besides the latter, it is necessary to come up with a mechanism that can minimize poverty rates within the state.
Usually, socially democratic states have a system of taxation that is adequate enough. This means that governments ought not to operate under systems that cant self sustain. In this regard, the taxation system should be value added. In most cases, it is usually moderate or high.
There are certain aspects that are also synonymous with socially democratic states. These include the issue of environmental sustainability. Such countries are usually dedicated to environmentalists’ principles. Besides the latter, such economies are usually in support of immigration, progressive social policies, human rights and social liberties.
4) When and during which conditions facilitate the start up of a scientific revolution
A scientific revolution can start when specific individuals feel that there is need to challenge the way things are being done. Normally, one can start a scientific revolution when they are unhappy with current methodologies. As it is today, there are many procedures that may make social scientists unhappy with the status quo. For instance, the issue of scientific elites has solicited a lot of sharp remarks from critics. The latter group are usually prejudicial and may discriminate upon certain categories of persons. Also because of the emphasis on peer review, the creation of a scientist elite has been propagated.
A scientific revolution may also occur when it becomes relatively difficult for new ideas to be accommodated. As it is today, many scientists are not open to new ideas. They usually oppose them with a lot of vigor yet those respective groups may have the ability to inject new life into the system. Normally, new ideas are usually accepted into the sciences when old ones have began displaying some cracks. This signifies that there ought to be a paradigm shift in the way things are done.
Additionally, a scientific revolution can occur when emerging scientists have little access to resources. Most of the practicing scientists have very little access to funding as the scientific elite are the ones that mostly control these funds. Through such unfair practices, then emerging scientists are discouraged from participating in the process.
Social democracy is a popular political ideology in the world. However, there is a need to look at whether this system is eon its way to extinction. The research will utilize a positivistic approach through inductive reasoning. Data will be collected through secondary research and structured interviews. (Thorpe et al, 2002)
Bell, E. and Bryman, A. (2003): Business Research Methods; Oxford University Press
Thorpe, R Easterby-Smith, M. and Lowe, A. (2002): Management Research: An Introduction; Sage Publications
Saunders, M., Thornhill, A. and Lewis, P. (2003): Research Methods for Business Students; Prentice Hall
Veal, A. and Ticehurst, G. (2000): Business Research Methods- a managerial approach; Thomson Publishing.
Yates, J. (2004): Doing Social Science Research; Sage Publications and Open University Press