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Fen-ling Chen and Shih-Jiunn Shi

Since the late 1990s, the dynamics of welfare reform in Taiwan have gradually shifted to tackling new social risks emerging from economic globalization and labor market changes. This article analyzes these structural changes and the relevant institutional features of the labor market. The rise of atypical work has generated wide concern regarding its low wage income and insufficient social protection, triggering debates about which policy measures can effectively tackle the problem of the working poor. Drawing on the quantitative data from a social quality survey conducted by the Social Policy Research Center in National Taiwan University (NTUSPRC) in 2009, our analysis explores the social exclusion differences between regular and atypical workers for their objective and subjective experiences. The objective experiences include current financial situations, negative events, living conditions and political activities of the workers, whereas the subjective experiences refer to their feelings in family position, welfare assessment, discrimination, and autonomy. Our analysis helps explain the effects of work status on the degrees of social exclusion, both in the private and public spheres. The social exclusion experiences of working conditions shed light on social quality in Asia.

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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.

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Citizens and Citizenship

The Rhetoric of Dutch Immigrant Integration Policy in 2011

Dana Rem and Des Gasper

The past generation has seen a switch to restrictive policies and language in the governance of migrants living in the Netherlands. Beginning in 2010, a new government with right-wing populist backing went further, declaring the centrality of proposed characteristic historic Dutch values. In this article, we investigate a key policy document to characterize and understand this policy change. Discourse analysis as an exploration of language choices, including use of ideas from rhetoric, helps us apply and test ideas from governmentality studies of migration and from discourse studies as social theorizing. We trace the chosen problem formulation; the delineation, naming, and predication of population categories; the understanding of citizenship, community, and integration; and the overall rhetoric, including chosen metaphors and nuancing of emphases, that links the elements into a meaning-rich world picture. A “neoliberal communitarian” conception of citizenship has emerged that could unfortunately subject many immigrants to marginalization and exclusion.

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Wolfgang Merkel

Democracy seems to be inextricably linked to crisis. This is true since the ancient writings of Plato and Aristotle. More recently, the debate over the crisis of democracy goes on under the heading of “postdemocracy.” This article addresses the question of whether the crisis of democracy is an invention of theoretically complex but empirically ignorant theorists who adhere to an excessively normative ideal of democracy, on three levels: first, on the level of quality of democracy indices developed by experts; second, on the basis of the survey reports on the opinion of the demos; third, on a deeper analyses of crucial spheres of democracy. The results hint in different directions. According to expert indices and polls, the message is: there is no crisis of democracy. However, the partial analyses on participation, representation, and effective power to govern reveal unresolved democratic challenges, such as an increasing level of exclusion of the lower third of the demos from participation, an inferior representation of their interests, and a loss of democratic sovereignty in policy making.

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Macro-Lessons from Micro-Crime

Understanding Migrant Crime through the Comparative Examination of Local Markets

Harlan Koff

Immigration politics are almost universally characterized by their complexity, their ability to raise public passions, and misinformation, often based on generalizations and stereotypes. Recently, immigration has been intrinsically linked to crime, and public agendas have squarely focused on security issues as nativist political forces have successfully created a prominent image of migrants as threats to public security. This article argues that immigrant participation in criminal markets should be studied at the local level, where micro-criminal economies often dominated by migrants actually develop. By examining criminal activity at its base, the article investigates the nature of power in these markets. Specifically, it examines migrant crime in four cities and compares it to migrant integration in regular labour markets. By doing so, the article studies levels of migrant autonomy in both criminal and regular markets and argues that this autonomy indicates whether migrant crime is entrepreneurial or a sign of social deviance.

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Katherine Smith

This paper draws on twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in Higher Blackley, North Manchester, England, to explore the ways in which individuals and groups who identify themselves and are identified as 'white', 'working class' and 'English' resist what they perceive as dominant ideas and discourses, deeply unsettling of their 'Englishness'. Perceptions and expectations of 'fairness' underpin social relations in Higher Blackley and this paper will explore perceptions of dominance through the local idiom of fairness. I explore how sentiments of belonging in this area are then imaginatively transposed onto national and international levels.

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Novices in bureaucratic regimes

Learning to be a claimant in the United Kingdom

Michelle Obeid

This article tracks the learning experiences of a refugee mother in negotiating her housing rights during her first months of settlement in the United Kingdom. New migrants often experience bureaucracy as “novices” in unfamiliar legal and bureaucratic regimes. By contrast to common depictions of bureaucracies as predominant sites of disenchantment and frustration, I attend ethnographically to the ways in which novice claimants come to trust and value bureaucratic encounters as productive spaces that reveal to them the vocabulary of legitimacy as they learn to inhabit official categories and forge bureaucratic personhoods. I suggest an understanding of migrants’ previous knowledge of non-Western bureaucratic regimes shapes their experiences of ambiguity in bureaucracy.

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Konstantinos G. Kougias

Chronic deficiencies of the Greek welfare state and the introduction of austerity measures as part of the international financial bailout agreements have created an explosive cocktail of poverty and social exclusion that severely tested the resilience of the frail social safety net and the demands of equity. The score on the indicators of social quality has worsened considerably as the Greek welfare system was overhauled. This article examines the four conditional factors of social quality from the viewpoint of socio-economic policies and everyday experiences in Greece during the crisis.

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Rolf Dieter Hepp

In our society, the relationship between periphery and center is changing. Questions discussed under the conditions of outsiders and suspended social groups penetrate the center of society and systematically determine the social correlations. Inequality, poverty, social insecurity, and precariousness are equated with changes in social change when the risk of social exclusion is undermined by unskilled activities. This is, for example, very much the case in the German discussion so that outsider groups are defined in Germany, which have themselves maneuvered into a corresponding social situation through wrong biographical decisions. The French approach of Pierre Bourdieu, Robert Castel, and Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello differed decisively in this respect, since they reoriented social uncertainties and precariousness in a reorganization of the work structure. This article shows how precariousness is shifted to the center of society and how qualified work develops into unsafe and precarious working conditions within the framework of the reorganization in project activity.

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The Culture Industries

Symbolic Economies and Critical Practices

Malcolm Miles

Art has become a ubiquitous if at times convenient solution to problems of urban regeneration and social division. Generally, it takes the form of commissioned works or projects in development schemes, supported by state bureaucracies and funding agencies, which view the arts as expedient in relation to problems produced by other areas of policy, from unemployment to social exclusion. Currently, a shift can be detected in arts policy toward a restatement of the aesthetic approach characteristic of the post-war years, in which art does best what art alone does. At the same time, there has been a growth of new, mainly collaborative art practices, constituting a dissidence reliant on art's structures of support while seeking to subvert their intentions. The article outlines the perceived role of art in urban economic development, suggests that a shift in policy is taking place, and describes the new cultural dissidence through specific cases.