In this paper, the Social Market Foundation’s first publication from 1989, Robert Sidelsky discusses the use of the phrase ‘social market economy’.
It signifies a choice in favour of the market economy. The author stated that it means we turn to the market as a first resort and the government as a last resort, not the other way round. Therefore, our first instinct is to use the market, not to override it; and we are not afraid to apply logic of this to matters of thought, expression and behaviour, which most governments have an incurable urge to control.
Having argued this, Robert Sidelsky does stress that there remains a substantial role for government. It is the government’s role to deliver statesmanship and to sustain market order. The paper concludes that a social market economy is, above all, one which is embedded in social arrangements regarded as ‘fair’.