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Social Movements and Social Policies

Political Challenges under Austerity in the UK

Gregory White

The economic crisis of 2007/2008 presented a challenge to the welfare state in the UK, and, more widely, across Europe. It also presented a challenge to many citizens, who were on the receiving end of the austerity agenda, and subsequent tightening of welfare spending. If nothing else, the financial crisis demonstrated the hegemony of economic theories prominent in neoliberal capitalism. As many academics and commentators have identified, however, the current period of instability is indicative of a systemic crisis. In addition to this analysis, the crisis also exposed the intricate and opaque links between western governments and the financial sector. During and after the crisis an eruption of activity in civil society galvanized many that had been directly affected by either the crisis itself—through loss of employment—or by the subsequent austerity measures imposed. This article aims to examine the current crisis affecting the welfare state in the UK, and social policy more broadly, and, begins to suggest how social movements are seeking to challenge the dominant discourses surrounding austerity politics. The article suggests some reasons as to why traditional forms of resistance and organization—such as the mobilizations of the trade union movement—have largely been unsuccessful in challenging such narratives. The article concludes by considering the shift from trade unionism in the UK to post-crisis social movements, and where an anti-austerity movement more broadly might develop further in pursuit of defending the principles of social welfare, and, ultimately, the welfare state.

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Franz-Xaver Kaufmann

Today, "social policy" is an expression used across the globe to denote a broad range of issues, such as old age security, health, housing and so on. But historically, "social policy" had a distinct European origin and a distinct meaning. I maintain that "social policy" and the "welfare state" are more than a list of social services, and also have strong socio-cultural underpinnings that account for the diversity of social policy. The idea of "social policy" emerged in mid-nineteenth-century Germany against the backdrop of secularization and functional differentiation of modern society. I then pinpoint the twentieth-century move from "social policy" to the broader cultural idea of a universalistic "welfare state." The idea emerged internationally as early as the 1940s, even before the post-WWII rise of national welfare states, which, as I argue, differ according to national notions of "state" and "society." To this end, I compare the UK, Sweden, Germany, France, and two non-welfare states, the United States and the Soviet Union.

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George Ross

The "events" around Dominique de Villepin's abortive promotion of the CPE in spring 2006 were seen by many as a great popular victory in the defense of France's social model and another, albeit modest, version of May 1968. Others, particularly Anglophone neoliberals, saw them as proof that the French were incapable of reform. Both conclusions were wrong. The events and defeat of the CPE may have been enjoyable for many involved, but they resolved none of France's underlying and debilitating economic problems. On the other hand, the neoliberal view that the French are averse to real social policy reform is incorrect. Instead, the unresolved dilemmas surrounding the CPE episode are in large part the product of a particular strategy of reform, the "social management of unemployment," that has nourished and intensified dangerous—unavowed—social dualism in France. The present problem, illustrated indirectly by the events, is that political actors and social partners are unable to cooperate sufficiently to confront this dualism.

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Massimo Baldini and Paolo Bosi

The year 2007 was an important test bed for the social policy of the

center-left government, the fundamental nature of which was revealed

in the legislative activity related, either directly or indirectly, to the 2007

and 2008 budgets. In this chapter, we review the principal measures

taken and seek to assess both their significance and the coherence of

the general policy design that they embody. A number of criteria (e.g.,

housing, pensions, measures related to unemployment, the status of

families, health care, and social benefits) can be employed to evaluate

social or welfare policies. The first criterion, however, is whether

the government’s actions are consistent with the objectives that it set

itself at the beginning of its mandate. In this context, it is particularly

important to assess the factors that conditioned welfare reform, among

which the constraint of public finances is generally significant. In this

sense, it is important to try to distinguish the objective factors from

those attributable to contrasting viewpoints that existed within the different

strands of the center-left coalition.

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Regionalizing global social policy in times of economic crises

Comparing the European Union and the Common Market of the South

Stephen Kingah

English abstract: Focusing on the European Union (EU) and the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) this article presents the manner in which regional organizations apply underlying tenets of global social policy (GSP). It notes the challenges regional entities face in doing so. It also argues that the application of GSP at the regional level is important given the nature of many socioeconomic challenges, the effects of which are often felt regionally. Included in the analysis are theoretical premises justifying social policy both at the global and regional levels. In a period of economic hardship with an ever-widening inequality gap, there is pressure to roll back regional endeavours to manage social challenges. However it is exactly during such a period that robust regional measures need to be sustained or put in place to integrate global social policy, map out new social responses to problems, or implement existing regional social norms.

Spanish abstract: Centrándose en la Unión Europea (UE) y en el Mercado Común del Sur (MERCOSUR), este artículo presenta la manera en que las organizaciones regionales aplican los principios básicos de la política social global (PSG), y señala los desafíos que dichas entidades enfrentan al hacerlo. El artículo también sostiene que la aplicación de la PSG a nivel regional es importante dada la naturaleza de muchos desafíos socioeconómicos cuyos efectos con frecuencia se sienten regionalmente. En el análisis se incluyen premisas teóricas que justifican la política social tanto a nivel global como regional. En un periodo de dificultades económicas con una brecha de desigualdad cada vez más amplia, hay una presión por reducir los esfuerzos regionales para enfrentar los desafíos sociales. Sin embargo, es precisamente durante este tipo de periodos que deben mantenerse o poner en marcha sólidas medidas regionales para integrar la política social global, trazar nuevas respuestas sociales a los problemas o implementar existentes normas sociales regionales.

French abstract: En se concentrant sur l'Union européenne (UE) et le Marché commun du Sud (MERCOSUR) cet article entend présenter la manière dont les organisations régionales s'appliquent principes sous-jacents de la politique sociale globale (PSG). Il met en relief les dé fis auxquels sont confrontées ces entités régionales. Il fait également valoir que l'application du PSG au niveau régional soit importante compte tenu des nombreux dé fis socio-économiques dont les effets sont souvent ressentis au niveau régional. Des prémisses théoriques sont incluses dans l'analyse a fin de justifier la politique sociale tant bien au niveau mondial que régional. Dans une période marquée par la crise économique et le fossé toujours grandissant des inégalités, on observe une ne e pression visant à faire reculer efforts régionaux destinés à gérer les dé fis sociaux. Or, c'est justement pendant ce e période que des mesures régionales robustes doivent être maintenues ou mises en place pour intégrer la politique sociale globale; planifier de nouvelles réponses sociales aux problèmes ou me re en œuvre les normes sociales régionales existantes.

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Katja Hujo

English abstract: International migration is driven by development processes and, at the same time, it impacts development through labor market effects, remittance flows, knowledge transfers, social change in households and communities and responses at the policy and institutional levels. Although the development potential of migration is now widely recognized, we still observe that migration, and in particular, the free movement of people and the access of migrants to sociopolitical rights, remains a highly contested and sensitive political issue. This is not only the case with regard to migration from developing countries to industrialized countries in the North, but also for migration at a regional level and within regional integration projects such as common markets or political and monetary unions. This article discusses the linkages between migration, development, social policy and regional integration. The focus is on migration in sub-Saharan Africa, its impact on development and migrants' rights and implications for public policies including new forms of migration governance.

Spanish abstract: La migración internacional es impulsada por los procesos de desarrollo y, al mismo tiempo, tiene un impacto en el desarrollo a través de sus efectos en el mercado de trabajo, los flujos de remesas, las transferencias de conocimientos, el cambio social en los hogares y en las comunidades, así como las respuestas a nivel político e institucional. Aunque actualmente el potencial de desarrollo de la migración es ampliamente reconocido, todavía observamos que la migración y, en particular, la libre circulación de personas y el acceso de los migrantes a más derechos sociopolíticos, sigue siendo una cuestión política muy controvertida y sensible. Este no es sólo el caso con respecto a la migración de los países en desarrollo a los países industrializados del Norte, también ocurre en la migración a nivel regional y en los proyectos de integración regional tales como los mercados comunes o uniones políticas y monetarias. Este artículo analiza los vínculos entre la migración, el desarrollo, la política social y la integración regional. La atención se centra en la migración en el África Subsahariana, su impacto sobre el desarrollo y los derechos de los migrantes, así como sus implicaciones en las políticas públicas, incluyendo nuevas formas de gobernanza de la migración.

French abstract: La migration internationale est pilotée par les processus de développement et, dans un même temps, impacte sur le développement à travers ses effets sur le marché du travail, les transferts de fonds des migrants, les transferts de connaissances, le changement social dans les ménages et les communautés, ainsi que les réponses qu'elle occasionne au niveau politique et institutionnel. Bien que le potentiel de développement des migrations soit désormais largement reconnu, nous observons encore que la migration, et en particulier la libre circulation des personnes et l'accès des migrants aux droits socio-politiques, reste une question politique très controversée et sensible. Cela ne concerne pas seulement le cas des flux migratoires des pays en développement vers les pays industrialisés du Nord, mais également les flux migratoires générés au niveau régional et dans les contextes d'intégration régionale tels que les marchés communs ou les unions politiques et monétaires. Cet article examine les liens entre la migration, le développement, la politique sociale et l'intégration régionale. L'accent est mis sur la migration en Afrique sub-saharienne, son impact sur le développement et les droits des migrants, ainsi que leurs impacts sur les politiques publiques, y compris les nouvelles formes de gouvernance migratoires.

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Stefano Sacchi

This chapter deals with two momentous structural reforms introduced by the Monti government in the social policy field: the pension reform approved in late 2011 and the labor market reform passed in July 2012. Alongside discussing the content of these two reforms and their plausible policy impact, the chapter places them in the context of the Italian sovereign debt crisis and shows how they were introduced due to pressures exerted by international and supra-national actors. The analysis focuses in particular on the policy-making process of the labor market reform, reconstructing the various stages it went through. All this took place in the context of a new policy style by the Monti government, which forced decisions in the shadow of hierarchy and even took unilateral action, pursuing its policy objectives under the legitimacy provided by the international actors and the sense of urgency stemming from the sovereign debt crisis.

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Regions, borders, and social policy

The limits of welfare in regional cohesion debates

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

This first issue of Volume Four of Regions & Cohesion continues a trend of articles that gained momentum in Volume Three, focusing on the territorial aspects of welfare in social cohesion debates. The Summer 2013 issue of the journal presented a collection of articles that specifically discussed the role of borders and border policies in social cohesion politics. Although this collection was not intended to be presented as a thematically specific issue, the simultaneous arrival of these pieces highlighted the importance of borders in defining the territorial limits of cohesion and the ensuing renegotiation of these limits in political debates. For example, the article by Irina S. Burlacu and Cathal O’Donoghue focused on the impacts of the European Union’s social security coordination policy on the welfare of cross-border workers in Belgium and Luxembourg. The article illustrated the limits of this regional policy as cross-border workers do not receive equal treatment compared to domestic workers in the country of employment. Similarly, an article by Franz Clément in the same issue analyzed the “socio-political representation” of cross-border workers and discusses how such workers can mobilize for socioeconomic rights in institutions aimed at worker protection (such as professional associations, trade unions, etc.). Both articles show that despite formal regionalization of legislation concerning social rights and representation, national boundaries clearly present challenges to cross-border workers who have difficulty negotiating rights in both their country of employment and country of residence.

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Anke Hassel

German unification acted as a catalyst for the substantial transformation of the German welfare and employment regime which has taken place over the last two decades. The changes can be described as a process of a partial liberalization of the labor market within the boundaries of a coordinated industrial relations system and a conservative welfare state. This article depicts the transformation as a trend towards a more liberal welfare and employment regime by focusing on the shifting boundaries between status and income maintenance and poor relief systems.

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Peter Marcuse

This article examines the conceptual structure of the Social City Program as it has been formulated in legislation and applied in practice. It raises serious questions as to the actual impact of the program as formulated, and suggests that conceptual clarity may help both to expose its flaws and to propose alternate positive potentials. The program has a complex intellectual underlay, and clarity in the concepts used can avoid some potential dangers in its implementation. More specifically, integration is not the opposite of exclusion, and inclusion is not the same as reducing poverty. Spatial clustering can either support or weaken solidarity. Enclaves and ghettos are not the same thing, although both reflect a clustering of population groups. Finally, emphasizing "social capital" can be a way of highlighting the strength of the oppressed or blaming them for their own oppression-and these distinctions are loaded with consequences for policy.