European Journal of Social Quality

Latest Issue Table of Contents

Volume 6 (2006): Social Quality and Modern Public Health: Developing a Framework for the 21st Century. Guest Editor: Paul Ward

Indicators of Social Quality

Outcomes of the European Scientific Network

In October 2001, the Network Indicators of Social Quality started the process of creating social quality indicators. This project of the European Foundation on Social Quality was supported by the European Commission (DG Research) under Framework Programme 5 (van der Maesen et al. 2000). The Network consisted of representatives of universities from 14 partner countries and two European NGOs. Over its forty-two-month life the Network held four meetings. Three plenary meetings were organised with all assistants thanks to the financial support by the Dutch Scientific Foundation (NWO). Also through the creation of unique national reference groups on social quality, the Network has engaged more than a hundred scientists and policy makers in its work. The project was completed in April 2005. The intriguing question was how to theoretically legitimise the choice of social quality indicators compared to the indicators constructed in the context of 'quality of life' approaches, as developed for example by ZUMA of the University of Mannheim (Noll 2000; Berger-Schmit et al. 2000) and the European Foundation on the Improvement of Working and Living Conditions in Dublin (Fahey et al. 2002).

Exporting or Pulling Down?

The European Social Model and Eastern Enlargement of the EU

Author: Gábor Juhász

This paper hypothesises that public support for the economic and political transformation in east-central Europe in 1989 was fuelled by enthusiasm for the reception of the (west) European Social Model, where the capitalist mode of production was combined with a high degree of social protection. In the first part of the article the author identifies the basic values of and the challenges to the European Social Model. Them he analyses the impact of the European Union on the transformation of east-central European social policy in the 1990s, and concludes that the negotiations concerning the accession of post-communist east-central European countries to the EU hardly contributed to the reception of the core values of the European Social Model in the new member states. Giving an overview of he social situation in the accession countries, the third part of the article calls the reader's attention to the alarming differences regarding the quality of life between the EU Fifteen and the new member states. In the final part, the author raises questions about the European Union's capacity to preserve the European Social Model, taking reactions of the members states to post-enlargement fears of social gaps between the east and west of Europe into consideration.

The Rational Actor Reform Paradigm

Delivering the Goods but Destroying Public Trust?

This paper discusses the impact of an important trend in service delivery in response to the substantial pressures that now face European welfare states: the New Public Management, combining centrally imposed targets and the promotion of market systems within state services. It traces the logic underlying the reform back to the rational self-regarding actor theories of human behaviour of the Enlightenment. Using the example of the UK NHS, recently reformed in a way that follows the rational actor paradigm, it considers the impact on long-term public trust.

Trust, Reflexivity and Dependence

A 'Social Systems Theory' Analysis in/of Medicine

Author: Paul Ward

Given the centrality of 'trust' in both the Theory of Social Quality and as a central motif of life in late modernity, this paper focuses attention on public (mist)trust in social systems and the potential ramifications of engagement with medical services, in addition to feelings of social exclusion and disembeddedness. Using data from a qualitative study of lay perceptions of local primary health care services, the paper reveals the complex and often contradictory ways in which trust is won, developed and lost. In addition, mistrust in local general practitioners (GPs) was found to be a factor of mistrust in a variety of social systems, organisations and institutions of government, rather than solely related to mistrust of either the GPs or the medical system. Nevertheless, there was not a widespread abandonment of the use of GPs or Western medicine, which may partly be explained by the perceived dependence of these people these people on the medical system. Overall, generalised mistrust existed at both inter-personal and systems-based levels and was levied at a variety of social systems and institutions of governance – mistrust was a pervading dimension of life in this community.