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Social Quality, Employment and Its Flexicurity

Laurent L.G. van der Maesen

The main task of this article is to introduce the social quality initiative and to link its recent outcomes to aspects of employment policy. The initiative was launched during the Dutch Presidency in 1997 as a new academic approach to the circumstances of citizens in Europe, the Member States, regions, cities and communities. The idea of social quality arose out of the conflict between European economic and social policy – more specifically, the subordination of the latter to the former – and the lack of any distinct rationale for social policies. Two studies published by the Foundation provided the basis for the initiative’s development, and established the four objective conditional factors or components of social quality: Socio-economic security, cohesion, inclusion, and empowerment.

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Indicators of Social Quality

Outcomes of the European Scientific Network

Laurent J.G. van der Maesen and Alan C. Walker

In October 2001, the Network Indicators of Social Quality started the process of creating social quality indicators. This project of the European Foundation on Social Quality was supported by the European Commission (DG Research) under Framework Programme 5 (van der Maesen et al. 2000). The Network consisted of representatives of universities from 14 partner countries and two European NGOs. Over its forty-two-month life the Network held four meetings. Three plenary meetings were organised with all assistants thanks to the financial support by the Dutch Scientific Foundation (NWO). Also through the creation of unique national reference groups on social quality, the Network has engaged more than a hundred scientists and policy makers in its work. The project was completed in April 2005. The intriguing question was how to theoretically legitimise the choice of social quality indicators compared to the indicators constructed in the context of 'quality of life' approaches, as developed for example by ZUMA of the University of Mannheim (Noll 2000; Berger-Schmit et al. 2000) and the European Foundation on the Improvement of Working and Living Conditions in Dublin (Fahey et al. 2002).

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Evolutionary Thermodynamics and Theory of Social Quality as Links between Physics, Biology, and the Human Sciences

Jaap Westbroek, Harry Nijhuis, and Laurent van der Maesen

unity. Particular attention is given to the interdependent dialectical character of processes in societies between humans and (evolving) levels of societal organization. We propose that the theory of social quality, both in ontological and

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Social Quality Measurement and Perceived Social Quality

The Case of Peshawar, Pakistan

Muhammad Yasir Ali and Ka Lin

index, and social quality index ( Land et al. 2011 ; Abbott et al. 2016 ; Schalock et al. 2005 ). These index systems present information on the ranking based on the survey data but also refer to some statistical data. The main intent of these studies

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Social Quality in China

An Analysis of the Evaluation of Different Classes

Cui Yan and Huang Yongliang

of social quality—that is, socioeconomic security, social cohesion, social inclusion, and social empowerment—on the overall development of society and people’s daily circumstances. Herewith, it is possible to provide a policy basis and theoretical

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Social Quality

Opening Individual Well-Being for a Social Perspective

Peter Herrmann

The article presents the application of the Social Quality Approach in order to develop a clear understanding of the European Social Model. For this Social Quality is understood as both a normative approach and an analytical tool. The article allows an insight into the actual meaning of the statement frequently made that the course of European integration falls short when it comes to social policy. The problem, however, is not the lack of responsibility for social policy. Rather, the author emphasises that the real problem is the specific interpretation of the social.

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Social Quality

The French Case

Denis Bouget and Frederic Salladarré

The objective of this study is to establish a set of indicators capable of forming the empirical basis of the concept of social quality for European citizens. Social quality is defined as the extent to which citizens are able to participate in the social and economic life of their communities under conditions which enhance their well-being and individual potential (Beck et al. 2001: 6). Before analysing the four social quality conditional factors, we will describe some facts surrounding the French situation. Firstly, the general social and economic situation will be described through characteristics which are particularly outstanding in France, i.e., in the first place unemployment and flexibility (in a negative sense comprising working poor, involuntary part-time workers, etc.). In the second place, certain striking features in the four conditional factors of social quality will be emphasised.

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Some Preliminary Considerations about Social Cohesion and Social Quality

Laurent J.G. van der Maesen

The recently published report by Wolfgang Beck exploring the role of social cohesion in European policies (Beck, 2001) is of interest for the European Foundation on Social Quality. Indeed, in the Foundation second book, ‘Social Quality: A Vision for Europe’, the analysis of social cohesion is seen as a priority in the strengthening of the theoretical basis of social quality (Beck et al., 2001). The editors of this last book emphasise the fact that defining the substance of social cohesion is a delicate matter. Because of its long scientific and political history the concept has been, up to now, connected with a wide range of other concepts with related connotations, such as inclusion, exclusion, integration, disintegration, and social dissolution. Contrary to many studies on social cohesion, the way they approach social cohesion as one of the four components of social quality is not restricted to the strength or weakness of primary social relationships (Lockwood, 1999). It is connected with processes of differentiation, which create a manifold of subsystems that cannot be directly linked as such with the logic of social structures such as families, households and associations. As a result the individual subject is forced to react in a multi-inclusive way. This is becoming now even more complex since, because of the explosive development of communication technologies, the pace and place of social relationships are changing. (Beck et al., 2001: 343) In this contribution we will present some elements of Beck’s report and we shall connect these with herewith-related parts of the Foundation’s second book.

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Indicators of Social Quality

Outcomes for Belgium

Veerle de Maesschalck

In presenting social quality indicators for Belgium, we have confined ourselves to explaining the national situation concerning these indicators without reflecting on the theory of social quality itself or the broader theoretical framework. When considering social quality from a Belgian perspective, it is important to keep the national context in mind and this is covered in Part I of this article. Part II focuses on the outcomes of social quality indicators, with the findings presented by domain, rather than by component (security, cohesion, inclusion, empowerment). An example of good practice in the context of social quality is provided in Part III, illustrating how the Belgian system of individual work time reduction embodies elements of each of the four components. Finally, we conclude this article by illustrating how Belgium performs in terms of social quality.

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Reconceptualisation of Social Quality

Anne Fairweather, Borut Rončević, Maj Rydbjerg, Marie Valentová, and Mojca Zajc

Social quality was first conceptualised and developed in the book ‘The Social Quality of Europe’ (Beck et al, 1997). This book, through a series of articles, develops the background to the concept and then produces a theoretical framework of social quality. Finally it critically assesses the possibilities for and problems with the concept. In the present paper, we first look at the concept of social quality itself. We then go on to examine the four components of social quality: socio-economic security, social inclusion, social cohesion and empowerment. In each section on individual components the general conceptualisation of this component is discussed, and this is followed by a discussion of how it fits into the social quality quadrant. A number of issues are then identified, that will require further research.