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The Social Consequences of Brexit for the UK and Europe

Euroscepticism, Populism, Nationalism, and Societal Division

Steve Corbett

Abstract

This article examines the 2016 Referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union and draws on initial research into the reasons that the UK voted to leave and demographics of the leave vote. This initial analysis suggests that the Brexit (British Exit) vote reveals wider and deeper societal tensions along the lines of age, class, income, and education (). By providing an account of the background and events of the referendum, this article asserts that the vote was a case study in populist right-wing Eurosceptic discourse (; ), but it also reveals strong elements of English nationalism (including British exceptionalism and social conservatism) in parts of British society (; ). Given this, the article begins to make sense of Brexit from a social quality perspective and outlines a possible social quality approach to the UK and Europe post-Brexit.

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Social Quality

Regaining Political Economy

Peter Herrmann

Abstract

A fundamental methodological problem is the relevance of an antagonism of capitalism. This needs to be classified in light of the developmental stage of the means of production: far too little attention is paid to the contradictory character of individualization and socialization. This brings us to Karl Polányi’s main argument of disembedding. He also deals with a shift from the socially integrated (and dependent) individual to the utilitarian market citizen. The French regulationist theory offers a major step toward understanding new forms of societal embedding linked to this “new personality.” It will also allow us to move beyond the misleading juxtaposition or dichotomization of individualization-socialization. Investigating five major tensions, it ventilates the possible meaning of the digital revolution and the challenges for monitoring development. The main aim of the article, however, is to bring the economy back in and to go beyond the traditional duality between economics and politics.

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William W. Darrow

Public health in the United States has lost its edge. It made a significant impact on human well-being, capacities, and potential in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Now it takes a backseat to biomedical research and therapeutic medicine. Population health with its traditional emphasis on preventing harm has been displaced by an exorbitantly expensive and continually expanding medical care system devoted almost exclusively to restoring or rehabilitating the health of patients – no matter the cost. The failure to control the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the United States can be attributed to adherence to an inadequate biomedical model that ignores the social. Social quality theory, designed to further social justice, solidarity, equal value, and human dignity, can contribute to identifying and correcting deficiencies in biomedical approaches to HIV prevention and other public health problems that continue to plague the people of the United States.

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The 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris (COP21), December 2015, reached a consensus to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, including by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change” (UN 2015: 22). The agreement has to pave the way for rules, modalities, and procedures and all Parties have to “recognize the importance of integrated, holistic and balanced non-market approaches being available to Parties to assist in the implementation of their nationally determined contribution, in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, in a coordinated and effective manner, including through, inter alia, mitigation adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity building, as appropriate” (UN 2015: 24). Of interest to note is that sustainable development and poverty eradication seem to be presented as two sides of the same coin.

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“Living Well Rather Than Living Better”

Measuring Biocentric Human-Nature Rights and Human–Nature Development in Ecuador

Johannes M. Waldmüller

Drawing on the first attempt worldwide to implement human rights indicators at the national level in Ecuador (2009–2014), as well as on a critical review of the uneasy relationship between human rights and human development discourses, this article calls into question the prefix “human” in contemporary human development and human rights thinking. By alternating case study and reflection, it argues that a systemic and biocentric focus on human–nature relationships, extending the concepts of capabilities and functionings to ecosystems and human–nature interactions, is important for designing adequate tools for human–nature development, monitoring and for moving beyond ascribing merely instrumental value to nature. In order to shift the common understanding of human rights and human development from anthropocentric frameworks toward a more realistic biocentric focus, a focus on life as such is proposed, including inherent moments of arising and passing that express the necessary limitations to all human conduct and striving.

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Measuring the Sustainability Performance of Our Decisions

The Best Practice Price Sustainability Metrics

H. J. (Huub) Lenders

Private and societal costs have their origin in the classic and neo-classic era. The market, based on private costs, ignores externalities, while actors fail to gain access to information on societal costs, causing a gap. The best practice price (BPP), a sustainability metric, can fill this information gap. Based on science and the weighted opinions of stakeholders, best practices for basic production factors such as land, labor, and natural resources are identified and their costs calculated. Producers can use these data to calculate the BPP of their products. Besides the market price (the price to be paid), the BPP is mentioned on the invoice and price tag as representing the costs of production according to the best practices. The ratio of market price (MP) to the BPP ‒ the BP ratio (BPR) – makes comparison of different products possible. Using the BPR, producers, public entities, and consumers can set goals for sustainable production or consumption.

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Social Justice through Enterprises

The End of the 1972/1973 Conjuncture? A Legal Perspective

Hagen Henrÿ

The article begins with reported data on social and economic imbalances and their negative effects on sustainable development. The state, the social partners, and enterprises such as cooperatives formerly organized democratic participation as the central mechanism through which social justice regenerates. Globalization makes them inoperative. That is why we have to reconsider the role of enterprises in general. Their responsibilities under the Global Compact and similar measures are not sufficient, unless they are made legally binding and are complemented by laws that link their structure to the aspects of sustainable development. The article singles out cooperatives and points to their features being approximated through legislation with the features of capitalistic companies, which negatively affects their sustainable development performance. The article concludes with remarks on the challenges for legislators, not least the outdated notion of competitiveness and a radically changing concept of enterprise.

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Sustainable Forest Management

The Role of Government Agencies, NGOs, and Local Communities in Western Australia

Leonie van der Maesen and Timothy Cadman

This article details the engagement by the Department of Physical Geography of Utrecht University in the Netherlands with rural communities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to assist them in gaining a better understanding of the environmental impacts of the management practices of the governmental forest authorities of the state of Western Australia in pursuit of international timber exports. The study commences with a description of the unique characteristics of WA’s forest communities. It continues with an account of governmental international forest policy norms and the discourse of sustainable forest management (SFM). This is followed by a delineation of the interactions between the academic community and civil society in their engagement with governmental departments in arguing the case for conservation. The final section makes some concluding observations on the lessons that can be learned from the failure of the state government to ensure the sustainable management of the forests of Western Australia.

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Feng Hao

The coal industry exercises a pervasive influence upon mining communities in Appalachia even though it makes minimal contributions to employment. Miners rarely participate in movements that fight against coal companies for better working conditions. One explanation for this paradox is the depletion of social capital. In this article, I first use the existing body of literature to build a theoretical framework for discussing bonding social capital. Second, I analyze how the United Mine Workers of America in Harlan County, Kentucky at the beginning of the twentieth century worked to generate social capital. The results show that these coalfield residents demonstrated a high degree of social capital in terms of a strong shared sense of reliability and a dedication to collective activities and intimate networks. The union during that period engaged in strategies that were instrumental in creating this high level of social capital: holding regular meetings, organizing collective actions, promoting collective identity, and electing charismatic leaders.

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A. H. J. (Bert) Helmsing

The concept of social entrepreneurship and enterprise has enjoyed a meteoric rise. Its appeal extends over a broad ideological spectrum, and it embraces a range of activities, from solidarity economy to changes within the capitalist market economy. However, the growing popularity of social enterprise has not gone unchallenged. Some see it as the privatization of social choices that belong in the public and civic domain. This article asks: How is the social constituted in social entrepreneurship? After reviewing why social entrepreneurship has become an issue and exploring its various definitions, it argues that a dominant current in the social entrepreneurship literature glorifies the individual entrepreneur while underemphasizing the importance of social processes. Social enterprise is dependent on the social entrepreneur’s civic engagement in mobilizing support. This engagement is critical for the economic, social, and political sustainability of the social enterprise. For social entrepreneurship to enjoy success in a sustained manner, it must first and foremost be “social.”