Feminism and the Third Way

Feminist Review 64 (1):97-112 (2000)
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This article argues that the Third Way’, as the ideological rationale for the New Labour Government in the UK, attempts to resolve the tensions around women and social policy confronted by the present Government. The Third Way addresses ‘women’ without ‘feminism’, in particular those floating women voters for whom feminism holds little attraction. But affluent, middle England, corporate women, though central to the popular imagination of the Daily Mail, and thus to Tony Blair, are in practice a tiny minority. New Labour in office thus finds itself committed to reconciling the irreconcilable. It wants to see women as a social group move more fully into employment, and on this many feminists would agree. At the same time it wants to see through further transformations of the welfare state, along the lines set in motion by Mrs Thatcher. Inevitably this involves further cuts in spending and privatization of social insurance. The former principle is made more difficult by the latter policy. Recent feminist analysis indicates the scale of the needs of women to allow full and equal participation in work and in society.



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