Rethinking Society for the 21st Century

Reports & Briefings

After three years of work, the International Panel on Social Progress has published a  three-volume report by on key challenges to society in the twentieth century.

Volume 2 includes a section of The Paradoxes of Democracy and the Rule of Law coordinated by Donatella della Porta (Scuola Normale Superiore) and Michael Keating (Centre on Constitutional Change). It examines the way in which neo-liberal ideas and practices have subverted democracy and formal political equality, while the rule of law is under pressure in several formally democratic states.

The International Panel on Social Progress was established in 2015 in response to concerns that social progress may have stalled or even gone into reverse. Its focus is on social justice, including individual wellbeing, disparities in wellbeing, resources and power, expression and the exercise of human agency and voice by individuals and by groups. The drivers of change are:

  • the weakening of the traditional nation state and the rise of transnational issues through the easier flows of capital, finance and labour
  • powerful forces of technical change which are altering the world of work and the power relations between capital and labour, and between different types of labour
  • profound and unequal transformations in health and education outcomes, and falls in income poverty in many emerging economies, but rising inequalities of wealth and income within countries, and the leaving behind of groups within countries and entire groups of countries
  • contestations between the religious and the secular, and conflicts between religious identities
  • post cold war conflicts and insecurities within and between nations.

The Report has been published in three volumes by Cambridge University Press. An executive summary is available at




IPSP-Executive-Summary.pdf (4.49 MB, application/pdf)