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Our Sort and Their Sort

Ralf Dahrendorf, 20 December 1979

by Jilly Cooper.
Eyre Methuen, 283 pp., £4.95
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... Every country has its social obsession, and class is undoubtedly the British, or at any rate English, obsession. It is, to be sure, more amusing than some others. When Franz Josef Strauss recently argued that the Nazis had, after all, been ‘National Socialists’ and were therefore closer to the Social Democrats than to him, his extraordinary invective backfired, but the intensity of the public debate that followed showed that the subject was close to an understandable, and deadly serious, German obsession ...

Disjunction and Analysis

Ralf Dahrendorf, 19 February 1981

Sociological Journeys: Essays 1960-1980 
by Daniel Bell.
Heinemann, 370 pp., £12.50, December 1980, 0 435 82069 9
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... The proof of a theory may lie in its application, but application means very different things in different corners of the universe of the mind. Expecting an eclipse of the sun at a certain time and place, and for a certain duration, is one kind of application. Producing a silicon chip which programmes certain operations is another kind. But in the social sciences there are no such tangible applications (and we all pay the price for the fact that some seem to believe that economics is different ...

Conservative Policy and the Universities

Ralf Dahrendorf, 25 October 1979

... Britain’s​ 45 universities are attractive, efficient, and cheap. In 1978, they attracted 250,000 home and 40,000 overseas students. While Continental countries, notably France and Germany, make great efforts to attract students from overseas by subsidies and quotas, such students seem to come to Britain naturally, and despite all attempts at deterring them ...

Social Policy

Ralf Dahrendorf, 3 July 1980

Understanding Social Policy 
by Michael Hill.
Blackwell, 280 pp., £12, April 1980, 0 631 18170 9
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Poverty and Inequality in Common Market Countries 
edited by Vic George and Roger Lawson.
Routledge, 253 pp., £9.50, April 1980, 0 7100 0424 9
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Planning for Welfare: Social Policy and the Expenditure Process 
edited by Timothy Booth.
Blackwell, 208 pp., £12, November 1980, 0 631 19560 2
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The City and Social Theory 
by Michael Peter Smith.
Blackwell, 315 pp., £12, April 1980, 9780631121510
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The Good City: A Study of Urban Development and Policy in Britain 
by David Donnison.
Heinemann, 221 pp., £4.95, April 1980, 0 435 85217 5
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The Economics of Prosperity: Social Priorities in the Eighties 
by David Blake and Paul Ormerod.
Grant Mclntyre, 230 pp., £3.95, April 1980, 0 86216 013 8
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... Must social policy be boring? After all, economic policy still keeps people awake while the phoney war between neo-Keynesians and monetarists lasts. Political policy (sit venia verba) continues to excite the adherents and opponents of adversary politics. Educational policy naturally interests the new educational class which dominates the journals and the universities ...


Peter Clarke, 21 September 1995

LSE: A History of the London School of Economics and Political Science 
by Ralf Dahrendorf.
Oxford, 584 pp., £25, May 1995, 0 19 820240 7
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... were joined by their habitual cronies, Graham Wallas and Shaw, makes a good story: one which Ralf Dahrendorf is essentially ready to credit in his unexpectedly fine history. It is not unexpected, of course, that a major history would be produced to mark the centenary, if not of the Borough Farm breakfast, then of the inauguration of an academic ...

Remaking the Centre

David Marquand, 3 July 1980

Annals of an Abiding Liberal 
by John Kenneth Galbraith.
Deutsch, 388 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 233 97209 9
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... the dominant political creed of the North Atlantic world. Its achievements have been enormous. As Ralf Dahrendorf points out in his important and persuasive pamphlet, ‘After Social Democracy’,* ‘it has turned the empty promise of freedom of contract into effective citizenship rights; the welfare state lies at the heart of social democratic ...

Driving Force

Stuart Hampshire, 19 June 1980

Life Chances 
by Ralf Dahrendorf.
Weidenfeld, 181 pp., £8.95, January 1980, 0 297 77682 7
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... It is not disarming when Professor Dahrendorf writes, in the very first sentence of his Preface: ‘The subject of this volume is simple: what are human societies about?’ And later: ‘What is human society and its history about?’ The intention is probably to appear informal, friendly and approachable, and at the same time to be profound in theme: but the effect is depressing ...

The Open Society and its Friends

Christopher Huhne, 25 October 1990

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe 
by Ralf Dahrendorf.
Chatto CounterBlast Special, 154 pp., £5.99, August 1990, 0 7011 3725 8
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... concerns and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands.’ One of the themes of Sir Ralf Dahrendorf’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe is that this view, perhaps the dominant one in both the West and the post-Communist East, is simple and wrong. Ever the good Popperian liberal, Sir Ralf believes ...


David Marquand, 20 December 1990

Citizenship and Community: Civic Republicanism and the Modern World 
by Adrian Oldfield.
Routledge, 196 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 415 04875 3
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Community and the Economy: The Theory of Public Co-operation 
by Jonathan Boswell.
Routledge, 226 pp., £30, October 1990, 0 415 05556 3
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Encouraging citizenship: Report of the Commission on Citizenship 
HMSO, 129 pp., £8, September 1990, 0 11 701464 8Show More
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... own public spirit. At the centre and on the centre-left, a disparate band including Paddy Ashdown, Ralf Dahrendorf, Raymond Plant and Julian le Grand have suggested that the state should be the guarantor of social-citizenship rights rather than the provider of services, in the old Beveridgean way. Charter 88 sees the root of our political ills in a ...

Tocqueville in Saginaw

Alan Ryan, 2 March 1989

Tocqueville: A Biography 
by André Jardin, translated by Lydia Davis and Robert Hemenway.
Peter Halban, 550 pp., £18, October 1988, 1 870015 13 4
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... or the triumph of mere levelling. It continues to have a tenacious grip on just that audience. Ralf Dahrendorf taught post-1945 West Germany lessons from Tocqueville-in particular, that it was not enough to repent of the misdeeds of the Third Reich, that democracy needed ‘the antagonism of opinions’ more than the concerted mouthing of Cold War ...

Playing Catch Up

Wolfgang Streeck: The German Exception, 4 May 2017

German Economic and Business History in the 19th and 20th Centuries 
by Werner Plumpe.
Palgrave, 367 pp., £86, August 2016, 978 1 137 51859 0
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The Seven Secrets of Germany: Economic Resilience in an Era of Global Turbulence 
by David Audretsch and Erik Lehmann.
Oxford, 229 pp., £22.99, February 2016, 978 0 19 025869 6
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Germany’s Role in the Euro Crisis: Berlin’s Quest for a More Perfect Monetary Union 
by Franz-Josef Meiers.
Springer, 146 pp., £90, November 2016, 978 3 319 37052 1
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... West Germany became a uniquely competitive and meritocratic society. This was far from all. As Ralf Dahrendorf was probably the first to recognise, the two forces that had between them worn down the Weimar Republic – the eastern aristocracy (the Junkers whom Max Weber had identified as the Reich’s main roadblock to capitalist modernity) and the ...

Impressions from a Journey in Central Europe

Michael Howard, 25 October 1990

... of the states than with the habits of the community – with the nature, or the absence, of what Ralf Dahrendorf and others have called ‘civil society’ – Burgerlich Gesellschaft. There has been an unspoken assumption in the West that the only obstacle to the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe adopting Western values and structures has been the ...

England’s Isaiah

Perry Anderson, 20 December 1990

The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas 
by Isaiah Berlin, edited by Henry Hardy.
Murray, 276 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 9780719547898
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... and Popper, these traits stand out. The Austrian duo have their own important differences, as Ralf Dahrendorf has recently suggested. But the common features are plain. The specialised work of each, in the fields of economics and philosophy of science, has been radically original and systematic in a way Berlin’s contribution to the history of ideas ...

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