In Part I of the book, Pierson assesses the evidence that underpins this position. What he discovers is not so much terminal decline but rather a whole series of deep–seated challenges to traditional forms of socialist and social democratic thinking. The most pressing of these problems are to be found in the political economy of social democracy and, above all, in its commitment to incremental change in the context of an increasingly globalized market economy.
Parts II and III are devoted to an assessment of market socialism, one of the most vigorous and innovative attempts to seek to recast socialist aspirations under these changed circumstances. In essence, market socialism represents an attempt to reconcile new forms of social ownership with the seeming ubiquity of the market. Having outlined this position in some detail, Pierson subjects it to a careful and systematic critique and, in the process, develops a set of distinctive arguments about the nature of social ownership, the potential of the labour–managed economy and the appropriate forms for an extension of economic democracy. The final chapter explicitly confronts the question of whether any form of socialism can any longer be thought to be "feasible".
Part I: The Death of Socialism? .
1. Socialism′s Disappearing Social Base.
2. The Declining Political Economy of Socialism.
3. The Ideological and Epistemological Crises of Socialism at ′The End of History′.
Part II: The Case For Market Socialism. .
4. A Model of Market Socialism.
Part III: Market Socialism Assessed. .
5. Market Socialism: ′A Contradiction in Terms′?.
6. The Political Economy of Labour Management.
7. Democracy and State under Market Socialism.
8. Feasible Socialism?.