Reading 'The Social Quality of Europe' is a challenge, partly because several authors' discussions go beyond the well-structured concepts of social policy, social security and the welfare state, and even more because the protagonists of social quality acknowledge that 'if no application is possible... it will only be used in unproblematic situations and function as a tautology.' It 'will remain an abstract and affirmative concept, of little use in theory and research of social problems in the widest sense' (Baars et al., 1997). That is why, in this article, we would like to make a contribution to the conceptual discussion, with particular reference to the issues of eventual empirical research. Due to the complexity of the concept it will not be possible to examine operationalisation in depth.
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
Notes on contributors