Chapter 3: Comparing the Performance of Employment Systems: Is Jobless Growth on the Horizon?
Comparing is the end of happiness and the beginning of discontent. (Sören Kierkegaard) Understood in this chapter as fairly stable, evolved employment policy conﬁgurations that reﬂect speciﬁc national and regional characteristics, employment systems are very complex institutional arrangements. Such conﬁgurations eventually emerge by institutional centres of attraction giving a characteristic coherence to the multitude of everyday interactions between individual members of society. Given this deﬁnition, how can one ever compare employment systems both comprehensively and comprehensibly? Had anyone asked Arthur Schopenhauer this question, his response would have been even more pessimistic than Kierkegaard’s. To Schopenhauer, comparing was the root of all misery. Shall researchers therefore stop comparing the performance of various employment systems in Europe? I think that Kierkegaard’s less pessimistic stance can even be turned into an optimistic perspective if one accepts that discontent – if reasonably analysed – is the only starting point of changing for the better. ‘Reasonably’ analysed means, ﬁrst of all, not falling into the trap expressed in a Chinese proverb: ‘The chicken in our neighbour’s garden looks like a goose.’ This chapter and the following one have the general aim of demonstrating that the foreign ‘goose’ is often the same size or even smaller than one’s own ‘chicken’. They also have the speciﬁc aim of proving that there are promising alternatives to the ‘neoliberal’ strategy hailed by many observers as the only answer to the challenges of globalisation, individualisation and transnationalisation. There is no reason to be afraid of...
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