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Editorial

Social Quality, Environmental Challenges, and Indicators

Laurent J. G. van der Maesen

The first three articles of this issue are dedicated to aspects of the current debate about and the praxis of environmental questions, and thus of the ecosystems. The fourth article concerns the application of social quality indicators in China. The gaining hypothesis is that a disconnection of the social quality approach of daily circumstances in Japan, Russia, China, Europe, the Americas, Africa, or India from environmental processes results into anachronisms. Without a global consciousness of the unequal consequences of these environmental processes, people in rich countries may be tempted to positively judge the nature of the social quality of their localities or country “as such.” Unknown remains that, seen from a global perspective, macrodetermined reasons for the positive outcomes in rich countries may go at the expense of ecosystems. They may cause, also because of the exportation of substantial elements of problematic (and partly environmental) aspects of the dominant production and reproduction relationships, serious forms of exploitation. Under the same conditions (ceteris paribus), this attack on ecosystems, as well as this exportation and exploitation cause increasingly declining social quality of daily circumstances in poor countries and regions. This will also result into an increase of “climate refugees.” Because of advancing technologically driven transformations—especially regarding communications systems—the interdependencies of countries between the West and the East, as well as between the North and the South, accelerate. Autarkic situations are becoming, or have already been for a long time, a myth.

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From Paris to Poland

A Postmortem of the Climate Change Negotiations

Tim Cadman, Klaus Radunsky, Andrea Simonelli, and Tek Maraseni

This article tracks the intergovernmental negotiations aimed at combatting human-induced greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from COP21 and the creation of the Paris Agreement in 2015 to COP24 in Katowice, Poland in 2018. These conferences are explored in detail, focusing on the Paris Rulebook negotiations around how to implement market- and nonmarket-based approaches to mitigating climate change, as set out in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, and the tensions regarding the inclusion of negotiating text safeguarding human rights. A concluding section comments on the collapse of Article 6 discussions and the implications for climate justice and social quality for the Paris Agreement going forward.

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Greening British Businesses

SMEs and the New Wave of the Environmental Social Movement

Curtis Ziniel and Tony Bradley

This article examines relationships between a new wave of radical green activism and an increase in greening businesses in Britain. We examine the spread of the movement through the formation of businesses implementing more environmentally sustainable practices. Our empirical data, combined with Office for National Statistics data, are drawn from both the supply and the demand side of the economy. Our analysis tests key individual-level determinants (education, energy conscientiousness, localism) and area-level determinants (party politics, population density). Our findings indicate the main factors in determining the growth of the ethical marketplace. We draw conclusions about relationships between environmental social movements and SME business sectors. Our results have implications for research on ethical business development and consumerism and for literature on social movements and political geography.

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Social Quality of China

Indicators, Reality, and Problems

Li Wei and Cui Yan

China has entered a new phase of development. Living standards have significantly improved as the economy grows. Socioeconomic security, social cohesion, social inclusion, and social empowerment have all strengthened, but the social quality level is not quite satisfactory. First, many think the low “social security” cannot provide sufficient protection. Second, low social trust and lack of social belief and value system greatly affect social cohesion. Third, to cope with social discrimination and realize better tolerance, social inclusion must be addressed. People have the strongest sense of unfairness for wealth and income gaps as well as right and entitlement differences between urban and rural areas. In addition, low political efficacy and low levels of social and political participation indicate weak social empowerment in China.

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Citizens and Citizenship

The Rhetoric of Dutch Immigrant Integration Policy in 2011

Dana Rem and Des Gasper

Abstract

The past generation has seen a switch to restrictive policies and language in the governance of migrants living in the Netherlands. Beginning in 2010, a new government with right-wing populist backing went further, declaring the centrality of proposed characteristic historic Dutch values. In this article, we investigate a key policy document to characterize and understand this policy change. Discourse analysis as an exploration of language choices, including use of ideas from rhetoric, helps us apply and test ideas from governmentality studies of migration and from discourse studies as social theorizing. We trace the chosen problem formulation; the delineation, naming, and predication of population categories; the understanding of citizenship, community, and integration; and the overall rhetoric, including chosen metaphors and nuancing of emphases, that links the elements into a meaning-rich world picture. A “neoliberal communitarian” conception of citizenship has emerged that could unfortunately subject many immigrants to marginalization and exclusion.

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Editorial

The Evolution of 20 Years of Social Quality Thinking

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The Role of Small-Scale Farming in Familial Care

Reducing Work Risks Stemming from the Market Economy in Northeast Thailand

Shinsuke Tomita, Mario Ivan Lopez, and Yasuyuki Kono

Abstract

At present, Thailand’s market economy is placing pressure on familial care within rural households. An increasing amount of people are making their living in the current market economy and moving to urban areas in search of employment. The provisioning of care has come under greater risk, especially for women and couples of working age who are exposed to the possibilities of losing employment opportunities. While caregiving has been a responsibility of the household, shifts in working patterns have weakened its ability to care for children and the elderly. However, the capacity to care in northeast Thailand is still higher than in other regions of the country. This article discusses the balancing act that takes place between a progressive market economy and familial care as provided within households in northeast Thailand to demonstrate the importance that rice farming plays in familial care even if income from farming is limited.

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Singing with Dignity

Adding Social Quality to Organization Studies on Aging

Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil

Abstract

Scholars of organization studies are right to be concerned with the limited contributions the field has made to public policy despite the societal relevance of the insights it contains. The combination of bulkiness and of insulated pockets of specialization could help explain the relative isolation from policy making that tends to require a combination of speed and multifaceted application. The social quality (SQ) approach is simultaneously an analytical tool and a political project to secure dignity of precarious individuals. The multilevel framework adopted by SQ can effectively channel the wide range of contributions from organization studies in the service of public good. Using an ethnography of music lessons followed by older adults in a cultural institution facing imminent closure because of austerity measures, the article connects SQ work to contributions from organization theory, which can shed light on organizing principles critical to well-being of older persons.

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Ian Mahoney and Tony Kearon

Abstract

In this article, we seek to provide a social quality–led analysis of some of the conditions that led to the UK population’s collective decision to leave the European Union in June 2016. We draw on interview data collected between 2010 and 2012 to argue that while not predictable, the seeds of the Brexit vote are well rooted in the conditions experienced by many of the working classes in Britain’s most deprived postindustrial communities. We argue that the ongoing decline in economic security, effective enfranchisement, social inclusion, and social empowerment have all had profound consequences for working-class communities and that the outcome of the Brexit vote was rooted, at least in part, in their subjective experiences and disenchantment forged in this ongoing decline.

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Social Quality in China

An Analysis of the Evaluation of Different Classes

Cui Yan and Huang Yongliang

Abstract

Since the end of the 1990s, when European scholars put forward the social quality theory, related research has been recently and increasingly carried out in China. At present, Chinese society has entered a new stage of development, and the main demands of the population have gradually changed. For theoretical and practical reasons, it is highly attractive to strengthen the research on the social quality of China in order to meet new public demands and expectations and to promote the improvement of social quality through the implementation of effective politics and policies. Based on empirical data, this article comprehensively analyzes the cognition of different layers of China’s population and the change of the four conditional factors of social quality on the overall development of society.