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Alan Walker

This article examines the extent to which the concept of social quality could contribute to a transformation in the debates about the welfare sustainability in Asia and Europe. The article starts by outlining the concept of social quality: its constitutional, conditional and normative components and the origins of its development as a European conceptual framework. Then a bridge is created between Europe and Asia by looking briefly at the similarities and differences between social quality and human security, a concept that is more familiar in the latter region than the former one. is is followed by a critique of the global discourses on 'sustainability' and, in particular, their dominance by economism. The final part of the article utilizes the concept of social quality to propose a more open and balanced approach to sustainability that brings in social and ecological considerations alongside economic ones. Some tentative suggestions are made concerning the operationalisation of a social quality approach to welfare system sustainability

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Alan C. Walker

The subordination of social policy to economic policy has been a continuous theme in the postwar history of British social policy (Wootton, 1955; Titmuss, 1967; Townsend, 1975; Walker, 1984; Hill, 1996). This distorted relationship has consistently cast doubt upon the autonomy of social policy, which has attracted labels such as the 'poor person's economic policy' and the 'handmaiden' of economic policy. Looking beyond the parochial vagaries of British social policy it is clear that the same problem shackles social policy in other European countries and, especially, at the European level. Indeed it is becoming increasingly clear that unless something can be done to reconstitute the relationship between economic and social policy the European project itself will lose contact with the everyday concerns of citizens as it concentrates overly on economic and monetary union (EMU) and becomes primarily a 'Bankers' Europe'. Such concerns have been expressed by senior European policy makers but, so far, there is no sign of a strategy to overcome the problem.

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Indicators of Social Quality

Outcomes of the European Scientific Network

Laurent J.G. van der Maesen and Alan C. Walker

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).

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Wolfgang Beck, Jan Berting, Peter Herrmann, Thomas Lenk, Ota de Leonardis, Laurent J.G. van der Maesen, Iñigo Sagardoy de Simón, Ivan Svetlik, Zsusza Széman, Volkmar Teichmann, Göran Therborn, Christiane Villain-Gandossi, Alan Walker, and Sue Yeandle

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