The Social Quality of Employment: Europe Needs a Social Policy for Work

By Walker, Alan | European Journal of Social Quality, July-December 2000 | Go to article overview

The Social Quality of Employment: Europe Needs a Social Policy for Work


Walker, Alan, European Journal of Social Quality


This special issue focuses on one of the most important policy issues in contemporary societies and also one of the key determinants of social quality: employment. The five articles in this section, from contributors in the south as well as the north of the European Union (EU), report on different aspects of employment and the social relations of work. The purpose of this brief introductory essay is to provide a context for these papers and an overview of their key elements.

Employment and the Welfare State

European welfare states were founded on the assumption of `full' employment. Therefore unemployment has a critical bearing on welfare states and their sustainability, regardless of whether they are in the Beveridge or Bismarck moulds or a variant on them. Employment is, equally obviously, crucial to the social quality of people's lives. There is a clear link between employment and inclusion and, conversely, unemployment and exclusion. Extended unemployment leads to exclusion from the labour market, but not necessarily to other forms of exclusion if income replacement rates are high and social contacts are maintained. There are close links in some countries, such as the UK, between unemployment and poverty and, of course, poverty is strongly related to social exclusion.

For those EU countries within the euro-zone the strict rules of monetary union impose constraints on public finances and, for those outside, the perceived dangers of global competition seem to result in similar limitations. Boscoe and Chassard (1999) have identified three interrelated developments in employment, which are altering the focus of and, to some extent, undermining the established institutions of the welfare state:

* A reduction in the risk associated with longevity, but with a new risk of becoming unemployable after the age of 50 (55 according to Boscoe and Chassard).

* A change in the nature of the labour market and unemployment so that, for the unemployed, it is not just a matter of geographical mobility to find work, but also skills mobility to stay attractive and employable.

* New forms of insecure work with no or very low workers' rights to social protection which, in turn, create new demands for social protection.

These are crucial issues for all welfare states, again no matter of what particular European variety. They seem, more and more, to demand a new relationship between economic and social policy if they are to be tackled. There is a realisation in some quarters, particularly within the EU, that economic performance is determined, to some extent, by the quality of social institutions, by order, trust or `social capital' and that this is dependent on social policies.

The need to integrate social and economic policy was one of the main driving forces behind the social quality initiative (Beck, van der Maesen and Walker, 1997). But this integration must be on the basis of their own independent rationales -- a social policy that only serves the interests of the economy would be a very narrow one on which to construct social relations and institutions. The social quality approach also demonstrates that there are different institutional solutions to globalisation and its related changes in society, and not one `best' approach (Gough, 1997). The EU has developed its own process of adaptation to globalisation, which comes with less risk than the U.S. one (Vobruba, 2001). It is essential, if the social quality of Europe is to be sustained and improved, that policy responses to unemployment focus on the quality of employment and not only its quantity. It is the impact of employment on the quality of people's lives that should be a central issue for European welfare states rather than maintaining an outmoded work or welfare dichotomy. Then a key question would be `how can social protection systems best support the widely varied forms of work, both paid and unpaid, that EU citizens are engaged in?

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Social Quality of Employment: Europe Needs a Social Policy for Work
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.