The Social Market and its Discontents

Ian Mulheirn, Director, Social Market Foundation
Michael Jacobs, Co-Editor, Political Quarterly

In this Political Quarterly debate, Ian Mulheirn and Michael Jacobs will discuss whether or not the social market offers the right framework for addressing the big public policy challenges of the day.

Social market theorists argue that public policy should promote the use of market mechanisms, as the most effective means of allocating resources both in the private sector and in many public services.  They argue that neither free-market fundamentalism nor statist approaches offer a role for government that will result in either socially acceptable or economically efficient outcomes from the market economy.

But critics argue that the huge number of problems generated by economies today – from the financial crisis to environmental degradation, from growing inequality to the concentration of corporate power – requires a more systemic government role in shaping and constraining market forces.  Who is right?

Ian Mulheirn is Director of the Social Market Foundation. Michael Jacobs is Visiting Professor in the School of Public Policy at University College London and Co-Editor of The Political Quarterly.