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Citizenship and Welfare Protection

François Nectoux

This double issue of The European Journal of Social Quality groups a number of contributions that approach the theme of citizenship and welfare protection from various angles, all relevant to the debates that are taking place in Europe today on this issue. Indeed, citizenship has again become a preoccupation all across Europe for the best part of the last decade, in political classes, think tanks and academic circles, as well as welfare pressure groups and other NGOs. Far from being simply a fashionable buzzword soon to be forgotten again, it clearly relates to a whole series of crisis in European societies that have to do with personal and collective identities and with issues of societal and individual responsibilities, duties and rights. The old question: ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ still occupies a central place in the way identities and societies are defined and practically organised. Because the reform programmes of the social security and welfare systems that are now implemented in many countries question the basic tenets that have supporting the Welfare State since the Second World War, issues of solidarity and social responsibility are hotly disputed. This affects citizenship insofar as it concerns the boundaries of identity. At European level, the intricate relationship between identity and welfare protection has been identified as one of the most complex and difficult issue confronting democracies on the continent. This is shown for instance in the studies of the European network on Social Exclusion and the Development of European Citizenship, SEDEC (Roche and van Berkel, 1997).

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François Nectoux and Fleur Thomése

This is the first issue of a new journal devoted to the analysis and discussion contemporary social issues in Europe. The launch of an academic journal always a challenge, especially in the field of human sciences, with so many journals of high quality focusing on European sociological or social policy areas, such as the European Journal of Sociology or The European Journal of Social Policy. Moreover The European Journal of Social Quality aims to provide analysis and a debating forum around a theme, social quality, which did not exist five years ago. Indeed, social quality is just starting to establish its legitimacy as an analytical tool as well as a normative principle. We are quite convinced, however, that The European Journal of Social Quality has good prospects become a distinctive platform for important ideas and analysis that will have impact on European societies and citizens at the turn of the century.

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From Unemployment to Flexicurity

Opportunities and Issues for Social Quality in the World of Work in Europe

François Nectoux and Laurent L.G. van der Maesen

This special issue of the Journal, which gathers a number of papers produced in the context of a research project recently conducted by the European Foundation on Social Quality, is again devoted to the crucial policy-field of employment. Indeed, at national and European Union levels, employment continues to be the most difficult and conflict-ridden part of the social and economic policy agenda, as it has for the best part of the last three decades. There has been very limited policy success in this field, and this is clearly illustrated by the fact that the most intractable problem, that of mass unemployment, has not been solved to any significant extent.

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Jan Berting, Erzébet Bukodi, Ton Korver, Pekka Kosonen, Laurent J.G. van der Maesen, An Marchal, François Nectoux, Jozef Pacolet, Heloísa M. Persista, Pedro Persista, Péter Róbert, and Jukka Vänskä

Notes on contributors