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Social progress in the 21st century

  • Date(s)
    31 March 2011 to 01 April 2011
  • Location
Social progress in the 21st century

Policy Network, in partnership with the Wiardi Beckman Stifting and the Foundation for Progressive European Studies (FEPS), has held a high-level seminar on "Social Progress in the 21st Century".

The event took place on 31st March – 1st April 201 and brought together senior politicians, policymakers and academics from across Europe. It formed a contribution to the Amsterdam Process and Next Left research programmes. The main purpose was to pave the way for a new research agenda on welfare models, critically examining new approaches to social investment, labour market reform and generational inequality.  

Ed Miliband discussion

UK Labour leader Ed Miliband joined the programme on Friday 1 April to talk about Labour’s economic plan and political outlook.

Chair: Steve Richards, chief political commentator for The Independent.

Event background

Social pessimism across Europe is on the rise, particularly among the larger and more established EU member states. After an era defined by social progress and rising social mobility, there now appears to be a growing perception that things will only get worse for future generations. This sense of social anxiety does not bode well for European social democracy. On the one hand it does not sit comfortably with core centre-left messages of progress and positive social change; and, on the other hand, it may be reflective of the electorates’ fading confidence in social democratic parties’ ability to improve peoples’ lives.  How then should we understand these new levels of social pessimism and what are the implications for our social models, societal vision and the direction of welfare reform?

The Amsterdam Process

The Amsterdam Process is an ambitious process of reflection and strategic thinking initated by Policy Network, the international center-left thinktank based in London, and the Wiardi Beckman Stichting, the thinktank for Dutch social democracy. Past events:



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