Exploring Inequality in Europe

Exploring Inequality in Europe

Diverging Income and Employment Opportunities in the Crisis

Edited by Martin Heidenreich

Europe has become a dominant frame for the generation, regulation and perception of social inequalities. This trend was solidified by the current economic crisis, which is characterized by increasing inequalities between central and peripheral countries and groups. By analysing the double polarization between winners and losers of the crisis, the segmentation of labour markets and the perceived quality of life in Europe, this book contributes to a better understanding of patterns and dynamics of inequality in an integrated Europe.

Chapter 1: Introduction: the double dualization of inequality in Europe

Martin Heidenreich

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


In this introductory chapter, Martin Heidenreich distinguishes three different forms of conceiving the Europeanization of social inequalities: firstly, due to the growing importance of Europe, national patterns of inequality are analysed and compared in a European context (international perspective); secondly, the dynamics of social inequalities in Europe are explained by an increasingly supranational regulation of the European economies and societies; and, thirdly, Europe might be characterized by the increasingly transnational standards of equality and frames of reference. Empirically, the rearrangement of social inequalities in the EU and especially in the eurozone can be summarized on the basis of the following chapters in five theses: (1) polarization of European labour markets; (2) restructuring of the European centre-periphery relations due to the relative decline of Southern Europe and the continuing convergence of Eastern and Western Europe; (3) increasing national employment, income and health inequalities; (4) subjective Europeanization of inequalities; and (5) the impact of the EU on social inequalities. The outcome is a double dualization of social inequalities both between different European countries and between different social groups. On the one hand, the eurozone crisis has contributed to an increasing dualization of life chances, especially between Northern and Southern European. On the other hand, life chances are diverging between younger and older, migrant and native, male and female and high- and low-skilled employees.