Think Tanks in the United Kingdom and Germany: Actors in the Modernisation of Social Democracy

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This article describes and analyses the role that think tanks in the United Kingdom and Germany played in the modernisation of the British Labour party and the Social Democratic party of Germany between 1992 and 2008. In these years, both parties were de-traditionalised. Especially, their central objective, that of achieving a socially just society, was redefined under the banner of the ‘Third Way’. Policy experts from outside the political parties played an important role in this process. The article discusses what a think tank is and whether in times of ‘paradigmatic’ crisis actors external to a political party can exert influence on the parties' policy objectives and thus supersede internal policy-making institutions. It also analyses, in comparative perspective, the conditions in which think tanks in both countries can be most effective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-294
Number of pages21
JournalThe British Journal of Politics & International Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes



  • think tanks
  • Labour party
  • SPD
  • policy advice

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