Governing Social Risks in Post-Crisis Europe

Governing Social Risks in Post-Crisis Europe

Colin Crouch

In this illuminating book Colin Crouch examines the diverse approaches presented by advanced societies in their attempts to resolve a central dilemma of a capitalist economy: the need to combine buoyant mass consumption with insecure workers, subject to, and responsive to, the fluctuations of an unregulated global economy. He demonstrates that the approaches of different national economies have varying degrees of success, and diverse implications for social inequality. Through the study of European societies, and comparisons with experience from the rest of the world, Crouch scrutinizes this diversity, and looks at how the 2008 global financial crisis has impacted it.

Chapter 4: Separating workers from consumers

Colin Crouch

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, labour policy

Extract

Most of the analysis in the following chapters will be devoted to issues of internal distribution of risks, to inclusive strategies and to those that create outsiders. These discussions will take for granted that national societies are collectivities, potentially solidaristic. First, therefore, it is necessary to examine ways in which risk management might break the bounds of existing national societies, not only across space but also across time. Wealthy people are able to invest their assets around the world and cut themselves off from the vicissitudes of their country of origin. They can live abroad and avoid fiscal and other obligations at home, even while continuing to intervene in domestic politics. As the income and wealth gap between very small, wealthy elites and the rest of a population increases in a context of growing global liberalization of the movements of capital and the increasing importance of secondary and derivative financial markets, this becomes an increasingly important feature of twenty-first-century politics. These elites are floating free from the rest of society, as Robert Reich (1991) anticipated over 20 years ago. Unfortunately, comparable data relevant to this aspect of the question are available for only a few countries, so we cannot carry out a systematic comparison, but for illustrative purposes Figures 4.1a and b present the statistics that the OECD was able to gather for its major study of income inequality (OECD 2011a).

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