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Irina S. Burlacu and Cathal O'Donoghue

This article aims to assess the impact of the social security coordination policy on the welfare of mobile workers, defined here as the EU citizens who had previously worked in another EU country than the one where they currently reside. The following research question is investigated: "To whom does a mobile worker need to be compared: to a worker in their country of residence (domestic) or to an earner in their country of employment (mobile), and why?" The article seeks to identify the counterpart group of comparison of mobile earners, taking the case of Luxembourg and Belgium. This analysis enables us to disentangle the effects of coordination policy on more working groups, and it tries to elucidate the importance of inter-group comparison. The results illustrate that the most equally treated groups are domestic earners and mobile earners, who reside in the same country. The most unequally treated are mobile earners and domestic earners from the country of employment, the uneven contribution premiums and unemployment benefit contravenes with the principle of equal treatment praxis.

Spanish El presente artículo busca evaluar el impacto de la política de coordinación de la seguridad social sobre el bienestar de los trabajadores móviles. Mediante el análisis de la cuestión ¿con quién se debe comparar un trabajador móvil?: ¿con un trabajador nacional en su país de residencia o con un trabajador móvil en el país donde trabaja, y por qué?, se trata de identificar la situación hipotética de los trabajadores móviles mediante la comparación de los ingresos de los trabajadores nacionales y móviles en el desempleo. Este análisis nos permitirá separar los efectos de las políticas de coordinación en más grupos de trabajadores, ya que trata de dilucidar el uso de las comparaciones de los diferentes grupos de trabajadores. Los resultados muestran que el nivel de las prestaciones de desempleo entre los trabajadores nacionales y móviles, es relativamente el mismo. Al mismo tiempo, aparecen grandes discrepancias en las ganancias cuando se comparan a los trabajadores móviles con los trabajadores de su país de empleo. En este caso, la desigual contribución a las primas/beneficios y las bajas prestaciones al desempleo de los trabajadores móviles y nacionales, contraviene con la práctica del principio de igualdad de trato.

French Cet article a pour objectif d'évaluer l'impact de la politique de coordination de la sécurité sociale sur le bien-être des travailleurs mobiles en posant la question de savoir avec qui il faut les comparer. Faut-il comparer un employé mobile à un employé fixe travaillant dans son pays de résidence ou bien dans son pays d'emploi et pourquoi? Nous cherchons à me re en relief la situation hypothétique des travailleurs mobiles en comparant le revenu des travailleurs nationaux et mobiles au chômage. Cette analyse nous perme ra de mieux saisir les effets de la politique de coordination sur un grand nombre de travailleurs, tout comme elle nous permettra de montrer l'utilité qu'il y a de comparer ces différents groupes de travailleurs. Le résultat montre que le montant de l'allocation chômage est relativement similaire entre celui d'un travailleur fixe et mobile. Par ailleurs, on relève d'importantes différences entre le revenu des travailleurs mobiles et celui des travailleurs nationaux. Dans ce cas, la cotisation inégale aux primes et indemnités de chômage des travailleurs nationaux et mobiles contredit le principe d'égalité de traitement entre les personnes.

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Tajik Male Labour Migration and Women Left Behind

Can They Resist Gender and Generational Hierarchies?

Mary Elaine Hegland

Poverty and unemployment send at least one million Tajiks to Russia for low-level labour migration. The migrants, mainly male, leave women behind to manage on their own. As a result, women have to work all the harder to try to feed themselves and their children, often against great odds. Male migrant labour to Russia, along with unemployment, alcoholism, drug dependency and other problems, also results in a shortage of marriageable males. This is a serious problem because Tajiks expect girls to marry early. Globalisation, poverty and male labour migration serve to exacerbate existing gender and generational hierarchies.

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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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Peiliao

Gender, Psychologization, and Psychological Labor in China

Jie Yang

This article examines the psychologization trend in China by analyzing peiliao (companion to chat), a 'profession' promoted among laid-off women workers since the mid-1990s. Unlike other psychological caregivers who empathize or sympathize through imagining the situation of another who suffers, job counselors encourage those who become peiliao to invoke their direct experience of unemployment in their current care work. Such job training not only reinscribes these women's pain, but also naturalizes their psychological labor as part of their moral virtue, which downplays its social and economic value. The article suggests that peiliao and other psychologizing processes in China, rather than depoliticizing social struggle, constitute a new arena for politics in which marginalized women's psychological labor is exploited both to advance market development and to enact the therapeutic ethos of the ruling party.

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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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From Unemployment to Flexicurity

Opportunities and Issues for Social Quality in the World of Work in Europe

François Nectoux and Laurent L.G. van der Maesen

This special issue of the Journal, which gathers a number of papers produced in the context of a research project recently conducted by the European Foundation on Social Quality, is again devoted to the crucial policy-field of employment. Indeed, at national and European Union levels, employment continues to be the most difficult and conflict-ridden part of the social and economic policy agenda, as it has for the best part of the last three decades. There has been very limited policy success in this field, and this is clearly illustrated by the fact that the most intractable problem, that of mass unemployment, has not been solved to any significant extent.

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Lei Delsen

On 1 January 1999, the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) was created. The currencies of 12 member countries of the European Union (EU) were first irrevocably fixed and then replaced by one European currency, the euro, earlier than the deadline of 1 July 2002. According to Article 2 of the Maastricht Treaty the aim of EMU is to promote ‘sustainable and non-inflationary growth respecting the environment, a high degree of convergence of economic performance, a high level of employment and of social protection, the raising of the standard of living and quality of life, and economic and social cohesion and solidarity among Member States.’ From this one may expect a positive relationship between EMU and the social environment.

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Jozef Pacolet and An Marchal

What’s in a name? ‘Social quality’ is an attractive yet vague concept. It has an appeal in the context of post-industrial aspirations to rise above the quantitative and the material, towards qualitative, immaterial goals; it emphasises ‘social’ aspects that lie beyond individualistic preoccupations and are oriented towards considerations of collectivity and solidarity. These aspects can be represented in terms of two dimensions (Figure 1), where the notion of social quality is situated in the upper left quadrant. But does this show the real content of this ‘container concept’, and does it reflect present everyday reality? The concept of social quality has been adapted (or rather adopted) in the context of the labour market in terms of the notion of ‘flexicurity’. We shall discover that to an important extent this notion includes both ends of the dimensions; in other words, it is not what it seems.

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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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The ethnographic negative

Capturing the impress of boredom and inactivity

Bruce O'Neill

Outside the main railway station in Bucharest, Romania, otherwise unemployed day laborers hustle for small change as informal parking lot attendants (parcagii). While their efforts yield numerous ethnographic observations of entrepreneurial activity, these attendants report “doing nothing” day in and day out. This article explores the tension between etic observations and emic feelings in order to ask a methodological question: how can “not doing” and “absent activity” be captured within an ethnographic method primed to observe activity constantly? In response, this article takes inspiration from photography to develop “the negative” as a technique for bringing the impress of absent activity on social worlds into ethnographic view. The intent of this methodological intervention is to open new theoretical lines of flight into the politics of inactivity.