chapter
Introduction
Social democracy under pressure
Pages 6

This book deals with the ongoing policy change and organizational transformation experienced by the British Labour Party (1979-97) and the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) (1982-98) in a period of longterm opposition as well as both parties first term in government. Their processes of party policy change are to be investigated by analysing the manner in which party political elites have gradually altered their ‘belief systems’, taking into account the specific conditions and restraints political parties (as mass membership organizations) are under.1 In other words, how did these two parties solve their problem of achieving a functional alignment of goals and structure while engaging in an ongoing learning process in the presence of persistent uncertainty? Furthermore, can we draw wider conclusions from their experiences?