A Strategy for International Competitiveness and Social Cohesion
Edited by Maria João Rodrigues
Chapter 3: A new European social model for the twenty-first century
3. A new European social model for the twenty-ﬁrst century? Gøsta Esping-Andersen The history of European welfare states has combined rare moments of epochal change with long spells of politics as usual. It is now more than one hundred years ago that Bismarck launched modern social insurance, and a half century has elapsed since today’s welfare states were carved out of war-torn Europe. Both instances stand out because the architecture of the state was fundamentally recast, because visionary thinkers and bold statesmanship embraced new ideals of social justice. But, for the most part, social policy has simply meant incremental ﬁne-tuning and adaptation to the existing ediﬁce. In normal times, social policy is mainly conducted by bureaucrats and technicians. Epochal redeﬁnitions belong to periods when our basic goals must be reconsidered. Gustav Moeller’s and Lord Beveridge’s designs for a modern welfare state were brought forth by the urgency of consolidating democracy and new social solidarities. While democracy is now an unquestioned reality in Europe, social cohesion is not. We are moving towards a new economy and society, both of which call for a new social model. Europe, today, stands at a cross-roads similar to the era when we invented the postwar welfare state. If the burning issue is to better align redistributive priorities and social rights to the evolving reality, this is not the right moment for bureaucrats or technicians to reign. What I here present is therefore meant as an eﬀort to rethink the Gestalt...
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