The social quality approach (SQA) can be considered as a specific collective representation that has the possibilities to be used as a policy instrument, thus as a method of social, cultural and economic change. The SQA contains important conditional factors: socioeconomic security, social cohesion, social inclusion and social empowerment. These factors seem to be in the first place objectives of social and economic change. In reference to the constructionalist factors, this article also analyses the specific nature of collective representations and their many variations. They are regarded as fundamental elements in social quality studies. In the last part, this study assesses the relevance of social quality studies and their usefulness in relation with various issues in a democratic society or in societies that are on the road towards a democratic future.
A Feasible Enterprise?
The draft-Constitution of the European Union mentions several values on which the Union is based. The status of these values is rather ambiguous, as the Constitution speaks about 'values', about 'developing common values' and about values which are common to all nation-states. Strangely enough, in the political debates that followed the presentation of the draft-Constitution, the specific role of values in the making of the EU was not elucidated. These debates show us a rather muddled state of affairs. Six different themes can be distinguished that are interrelated in complex ways.
Differences between various groups and classes in perceptions of social reality result in different interpretations of social and cultural events—collective representations—which can cause opposition and conflicts among social groups. This contribution analyzes this complex problem, especially in relation to two pivotal concepts: individualism and collectivism. In most political discussions, these concepts are used in opposition to each other, even though they are always interdependent. Moreover, in a modern society we can distinguish between seven types of individualism and six types of collectivism. Finally, this analysis of collective representations is connected with questions related to the present problems confronting the European Union (EU). With the introduction of the concepts of collective representation, collective identity, and the opposition between individualism and collectivism, we have paved our way toward an efficient debate about the future of the EU.
Van Bruggen’s theoretical and empirical analysis raises many questions about research on subjective well-being. I concede that this can be seen as an important merit of her contribution. I hope that this observation will contribute to her own subjective well-being, which, according to her preface, has not always been enhanced by doing research in this area. But then such is the common fate of those who are engaged in research.
Fate or Choice?
Jan Berting and Christiane Villain-Gandossi
Since the advent of industrial society we have witnessed an ongoing debate into the nature of the relationship between technological and economic developments on the one hand, and societal changes or transformations on the other. We ask the question whether it is more important for society to comply with the exigencies of techno-economic developments, as implied by determinist techno-economic ways of thinking; or whether society, as an organised political system, has opportunities for choice when confronted by major impacts resulting from the reorganisation of production systems and international markets.
Jan Berting, Denis Bouget, Peter Herrmann, Gábor Juhász, Ton Korver, Peter R. A. Oeij, David Phillips and Paule Monique Vernes
Notes on Contributors
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
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