Economy and Society in Europe

Economy and Society in Europe

A Relationship in Crisis

Edited by Luigi Burroni, Maarten Keune and Guglielmo Meardi

While an economy is always ‘embedded’ in society, the relationship between the two is undergoing profound changes in Europe, resulting in widespread instability which is emphasised by the current crisis. This book analyses these changes, and in particular pressures of intensifying international competition, globalization and financialization within Europe.

Chapter 7: European Unions After the Crisis

Roland Erne

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

Extract

1 Roland Erne INTRODUCTION Times of crisis allow the doubtful privilege of witnessing interesting times. The current global economic and financial crisis has brought so much hardship to so many people across the globe that nobody can be happy about its occurrence. Even so, the current crisis of global financial capitalism is also enlightening, as it reveals concealed socio-economic and political dynamics. The crisis not only causes pain, but also questions the legitimacy of free market capitalism and the dominant socio-economic and political order. Following Karl Polanyi’s ([1944] 2001) study of past waves of untempered global market capitalism, we should expect a rise of protective counter-movements that aim to subordinate the economy to society. In its first section, this chapter shows that the idea of a selfregulating market has once again been discredited. Yet, it remains to be seen what measures society will be taking to protect itself against future fallouts of the global markets. Whereas there is a growing consensus that the economy needs to be governed by tighter regulations, this does not necessarily mean that people around the globe will engage ‘in a common effort to subordinate the economy to democratic politics and rebuild the economy on the basis of international cooperation’ (Block 2001: xxxvii). Nevertheless, the chapter concludes that any fatalism about the prospects of a democratic counter-movement against the marketisation of society is misplaced. Without doubt, the initial political reaction to the crisis – namely the huge bailouts for private banks and the subsequent cutbacks in public...

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