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Social Quality of China

Indicators, Reality, and Problems

Li Wei and Cui Yan

China has entered a new phase of development. Living standards have significantly improved as the economy grows. Socioeconomic security, social cohesion, social inclusion, and social empowerment have all strengthened, but the social quality level is not quite satisfactory. First, many think the low “social security” cannot provide sufficient protection. Second, low social trust and lack of social belief and value system greatly affect social cohesion. Third, to cope with social discrimination and realize better tolerance, social inclusion must be addressed. People have the strongest sense of unfairness for wealth and income gaps as well as right and entitlement differences between urban and rural areas. In addition, low political efficacy and low levels of social and political participation indicate weak social empowerment in China.

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Xu Yanhui and Gong Ziyu

, individual self-realization will be highly frustrated. First, people must have access to materials and resources contributing to the realization of interpersonal interaction (socioeconomic security). Second, societal institutions and structures should be open

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Public Evaluation of Society in China

The Social Quality Approach

Ren Liying and Zou Yuchin

explicit intention to define what a good society is, it formulates four conditional factors of social quality, namely, socioeconomic security, social cohesion, social inclusion, and social empowerment. Furthermore, it formulates four constitutional factors

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Göran Therborn and Sonia Therborn

‘Social quality’ is not a common term in Sweden and its sister notion ‘quality of life’ is used mainly with respect to the conditions of particular individuals and rarely, if ever, in social analysis. Swedish social statistics and social studies focus on ‘levels of living’ or ‘living conditions’. The perceived subjectivity connotations of ‘quality’ in this context have not been attractive. On the other hand, Swedish social research and policy evaluation have de facto been very much concerned with measuring what may properly be called qualitative dimensions of living conditions and correspondingly less interested in, for example, the possession of consumer goods.

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European Network on Indicators of Social Quality

Summary of the Dutch National Report

Pia Steffens and Chris R. J. de Neubourg

This paper presents a first set of data for the theoretical elements that have been developed for Social Quality in the Netherlands. The four social quality conditional factors (Socio-economic Security, Social Cohesion, Social Inclusion and Social Empowerment) will be addressed in an individual paragraph. The last paragraph describes a recent policy initiative that is relevant from the perspective of Social Quality. Emphasis is placed on the fact that policy initiatives frequently constitute a trade off between different components of Social Quality and benefits and costs have to be weighed carefully.

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Social Quality in Portugal

Reflecting on the Context and the Conditional Factors

Heloísa Perista, Pedro Perista, and Isabel Baptista

Emphasising the ‘dialectic of self-realisation and the formation of collective identities’, the social quality theory becomes operative through four distinct, though interrelated, conditional factors: socio-economic security, social cohesion, social inclusion and social empowerment. Needless to say, such a formulation intends to create the grounds for a theory highly sensible to societal change. This article intends to give account of that societal change over the last few years on the grounds of the Portuguese historical context, and focusing on specificity reflected by the national context of social quality in comparison with the European (EU-15) context. This article comprises three main sections. The first one presents the relevant aspects of the Portuguese context regarding social quality. The second section summarises the key findings reflecting the specificity of the national situation regarding the four conditional factors of social quality and its domains. The third and last section reports a good practice and points out possible ways to stimulate social quality in the country.

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Maria Petmesidou and Periklis Polyzoidis

The subject matter of the ‘social’, defined as the realisation of the self in the context of collective identity, provides the central premise of the social quality perspective. On the basis of this premise the ENIQ (European Network on Indicators of Social Quality) project explored the four conditional factors of social quality, namely the extent to which social structures, patterns of interaction and policy processes, in European societies, promote (or hinder) socio-economic security, social inclusion, social cohesion and empowerment. These are key factors for gauging ‘the extent to which people are able to participate in the social and economic life of their communities under conditions which enhance their well-being and individual potential’ (ENIQ 2004: 2; also Beck et al., 2001). In this article we will briefly examine the four conditional factors of social quality from the viewpoint of socio-economic structures, policies and daily experience in Greece. In the first part we highlight some distinctive features of Greek society that are relevant to our analysis. We then proceed to a short discussion of each of the four conditional factors and their constitutive domains (and indicators). We conclude with some brief remarks on good practices and policy implications.

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Barbara Demeyer and Fintan Farrell

This article contains the ‘European Anti-Poverty Network’ contribution to the European research- and Network-project on Indicators of Social Quality (ENIQ). It contains the following parts: after this introduction the European social inclusion strategy, one of the important policy frames for EAPN, will be discussed, followed by the translation of the European decisions on indicators (Laken 2002) by national governments up till now (National Action Plans 1+2) and the consequences for the praxis. The fourth section elaborates on the comments by the EAPN on these European based decisions and the nature of the following reflections within its own membership. The fifth section includes a presentation of research on qualitative indicators for poverty. The last section gives comments and conclusions by EAPN on the social quality approach.

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Séamus Ó Cinnéide, Jean Cushen, and Fearghas Ó Gabhan

The 2005 Human Development Report recently found Ireland to be the second wealthiest country in the world (UN Development Programme). However, the same report also highlighted that Ireland was one of the countries with the greatest social inequality and with the third highest level of poverty out of the eighteen countries surveyed. The Celtic Tiger period may also be characterised in terms of the widening gap between rich and poor (Nolan, et al. 2000; UNDP 2005). Even ‘social partnership’, Ireland’s corporatist national planning arrangements, including triennial national pay agreements, is criticized for concentrating political power in the hands of small elites and organised interests (Ó Cinnéide 1998; Kirby 2002).

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Chiara Saraceno and Susanna Terracina

Within Europe, Italy exhibits one of the highest levels of internal and regional heterogeneity. This heterogeneity has been long standing (so much so that a research tradition has developed looking at regional diversities as veritable social formations – see e.g. Bagnasco 1977) and at the same time not fixed. Trends in the conditions of social quality, therefore, must be read against this background. In the following paragraphs we will synthetically sketch them, on the basis of the exercise developed within the Social Quality Network (Saraceno and Terracina 2004). We are well aware that this exercise is experimental, and that the system of indicators on which it is based is still largely provisional. Therefore, we will not attempt to draw any conclusion. We will simply present trends within each so-called ‘conditional factor’.