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Hans-Uwe Otto, Valerie Egdell, Jean-Michel Bonvin and Roland Atzmüller

In many European countries, a large number of young people aged 15 to 29 years have challenging and complex educational or labour market experiences. Since the 2008 economic crisis, the situation of young people has again deteriorated dramatically in many European countries and in particular in southern and eastern Europe. Employment and training opportunities have reduced, and levels of poverty and social exclusion have increased, not only, but especially, for young people. Thus, the question is emerging as to whether young people are a group at great risk of becoming, being and staying socially disadvantaged. It is this problem of the social disadvantage of young people in Europe in the aftermath of the economic crisis that this volume focuses upon. After having peaked in the immediate years after the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008 and the subsequent sovereign debt crisis in a range of European countries, the unemployment rate in the EU-28 for the 15 to 19 years age group stood at 24.6 per cent,1 for the 20 to 24 years age group at 19.1 per cent, and at 12.4 per cent for the 25 to 29 years age group.2 With the remarkable exception of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, who experienced a temporary peak of youth unemployment in the years preceding the crisis of 2008 (albeit on levels way below the situation in the so-called European periphery), in most European countries youth unemployment had remained relatively stable since the early 2000s – although a high degree of variation between European member states has to be taken into account.

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Analysing inequality and disadvantage from a capability perspective

Fighting Inequality Through Capability Oriented Policy

Jean-Michel Bonvin, Benoît Beuret and Stephan Dahmen

This chapter emphasizes the various possible ways to conceive inequality and disadvantage, as well as the multiplicity of individual, social, economic, cultural, institutional, and so on, dimensions involved. The challenge in terms of public policies is then to select one informational basis of inequality, that is, to identify which dimensions of inequality are to be tackled via public policies and which ones can be discarded as less significant. In this selection process, the participation of vulnerable people, directly affected by disadvantage, makes a huge difference, as it can allow a more adequate identification of the inequalities to be tackled. The chapter sheds light on the complex intricacies between inequality and participation, and emphasizes the prerequisites for a full and effective participation of vulnerable people in the design and implementation of public policies struggling against inequality and disadvantage.

Open access

Stefania Sabatinelli and Michela Semprebon

Public responsibility for social policies in Europe has been extensively ‘re-scaled’ in the last decades, both upwards, from the national state towards the EU, and downwards, towards the local level. In this complex process, ambivalent traits and impacts are emerging: on the one side re-scaling may be associated with more participatory, place-specific and effective processes and programmes; on the other it may entail blame avoidance, opacity and reduction in accountability. Moreover, re-scaling processes are not uniform: they take different forms in different national contexts and – within each context – in different policy fields. This chapter tackles the ambivalences of the varying patterns of change in the vertical division of responsibility and their implications for the delivery of social services. It explores the room for manoeuvre available to local bodies for pursuing quality, efficiency and innovation; the emerging forms of local governance; and the spaces for citizens’ participation and empowerment. All these aspects ultimately affect territorial and social cohesion and equal opportunities for accessing welfare resources in each country. The analysis is based on case studies produced within the COST Action IS1102 SO.S. COHESION – Social services, welfare states and places, referring to three policy fields: early childhood education and care, long-term care, and the social inclusion of migrants and Roma. The chapter is organized in three sections: in the first, the theoretical debate on re-scaling processes is briefly recalled to frame the trajectories observed in European welfare systems; in the second, the possible repercussions of changes in the vertical division of responsibility are discussed, taking into consideration the case studies; in the third, some conclusions are drawn, highlighting critical policy issues.

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Social services, welfare states and places: an overview

Changes, Challenges and Policy Implications for Europe in Times of Austerity

Flavia Martinelli

The chapter provides an overview of the debates on social services, a key component of both the service sector and the welfare state, highlighting the different socioeconomic underpinnings of these activities and proposing a number of analytical tools. In the first section, social services are positioned within the contemporary discussion about the service economy, the welfare state, social and territorial cohesion, as well as the post-Keynesian restructuring process. The specificities and key social and economic implications of these activities are stressed. In the second section, the importance of a time- and space-sensitive approach to analysing changes and understanding the great variety of national and regional restructuring trajectories is emphasised, and the notions of welfare ‘regimes’ and ‘models’ are reviewed. In the third section, the main restructuring trends at work since the 1980s and the effects of the 2008 financial crisis are ‘unpacked’, highlighting their key features and socio-economic implications and identifying relevant analytical dimensions. The importance of the ‘vertical’ division of authority within the state and of the ‘horizontal’ division of responsibility among providers is discussed, stressing the need to distinguish among the main ‘functions’ involved in delivering public social services: regulation, funding, coordination, production.

Open access

Social services in post-industrial Europe: an incomplete success story and its tragic moments

Changes, Challenges and Policy Implications for Europe in Times of Austerity

Ingo Bode

The chapter provides a general reading of recent European developments in social service provision with a focus on cross-country commonalities. The analysis sets out the main thread of the story that can be written about the evolving social service sector for a period covering the last two or three decades, with particular attention to governance issues. It reveals that there are inconsistencies in this story: on the one hand, social services have (more or less) become an institutionalised feature of European welfare states over the last decades, with a robust extension of service supply in mere quantitative terms, at least until the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008; Europe has thus witnessed a success story. On the other hand, as this institutionalisation proves selective in various respects, this success story has always been, and continues to be, incomplete. The social service sector exhibits loopholes and limitations; and there are tragic moments in its recent history as major promises have not been kept and ‘organised’ social service provision has often become subject to what can be labelled ‘disorganisation’. Hence, while the success story is not history, its happy end is yet to come.

Open access

Social services disrupted: changing supply landscapes, impacts and policy options

Changes, Challenges and Policy Implications for Europe in Times of Austerity

Flavia Martinelli

Despite the great diversity observed in the restructuring of different social services, across countries and regions throughout the book, a number of common trends do emerge, which in turn point to a set of similar consequences, albeit with different intensities depending on context. Drawing on the wealth of empirical evidence and critical assessments presented in the preceding contributions, this last chapter summarises some key findings. First, the main changes experienced in the public provision of social services in Europe over the last thirty years are recapitulated, stressing continuities and discontinuities in national trajectories, as well as convergence and divergence among countries and regions. Subsequently, the main impacts of such changes and their ‘disruptive’ features are highlighted. Finally, different policy ‘options’ are examined, critically assessing their implications and challenges for the goal of a prosperous and socially inclusive Europe.

Open access

Social Services Disrupted

Changes, Challenges and Policy Implications for Europe in Times of Austerity

Edited by Flavia Martinelli, Anneli Anttonen and Margitta Mätzke

This book revives the discussion on public social services and their redesign, with a focus on services relating to care and the social inclusion of vulnerable groups, providing rich information on the changes that occurred in the organisation and supply of public social services over the last thirty years in different European places and service fields. Despite the persisting variety in social service models, three shared trends emerge: public sector disengagement, ‘vertical re-scaling’ of authority and ‘horizontal re-mix’ in the supply system. The consequences of such changes are evaluated from different perspectives – governance, social and territorial cohesion, labour market, gender – and are eventually deemed ‘disruptive’ in both economic and social terms. The policy implications of the restructuring are also explored. This title will be Open Access on Elgaronline.com.
Open access

Carla Weinzierl, Andreas Novy, Anikó Bernát, Florian Wukovitsch and Zsuzsanna Vercseg

Roma communities are among the most vulnerable and socially excluded groups in Europe. This chapter highlights the historical and institutional mechanisms of their discrimination and explores the potential of social innovation to combat such discrimination and social exclusion. Two case studies of socially innovative initiatives for the inclusion of Roma in Austria and Hungary are described and their potential for contributing to social cohesion is critically analysed. The authors highlight that path-dependencies in two welfare models with assimilationist tendencies have resulted in difficulties in striking a balance between diversity and equality. They conclude that while European policies have raised awareness on cultural discrimination, socio-economic and political exclusion cannot be addressed solely by local initiatives.

Open access

The social inclusion of immigrants in the United Kingdom and Italy: different but converging trajectories?

Changes, Challenges and Policy Implications for Europe in Times of Austerity

Rosa Mas Giralt and Antonella Sarlo

Existing research from migration studies and comparative social policy has highlighted the need to develop better understandings of immigrants’ social rights and their inclusion/exclusion from welfare systems. This chapter contributes to this literature by exploring to what extent the UK and Italy, two countries very different in terms of immigration histories, management of integration and structure of their welfare states, have come to converge in the last 15 years in relation to the social inclusion of (documented) immigrants. To fully understand the social rights of immigrants we need to consider the intersection of the policies which regulate immigrants’ social rights (welfare, immigration and immigrant policies) with the systems of governance (national, regional and local actors, both statutory and non-statutory) that implement these policies and mediate access to social services. The chapter analyses the trajectories of immigrant and immigration policy in the UK and Italy while paying attention to the ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ divisions of labour within the two states and the role of non-governmental organisations in complementing or substituting for retrenching public provision in this area. We argue that there are important similarities between the two countries: (1) national governments concern themselves largely with immigration policies (quotas and restrictions on newcomers’ social rights) while transferring responsibility (but not resources) for immigrant integration to local governments; (2) actors from the third sector ‘compensate’ for insufficient public provision at the local level while facing a lack of funding and institutional support. In both countries these features lead to a growing territorial differentiation in services for the social inclusion of immigrants.

Open access

The role of the state in the development of social services

Changes, Challenges and Policy Implications for Europe in Times of Austerity

Margitta Mätzke

This chapter reflects on major trends in social service design, as identified and described in the previous chapters. All these chapters underscore significant changes in the role of the public sector in social service provision, and they are all keenly attentive to the potential drawbacks and problematic aspects of the changing outlook of public policy engagement. This concluding chapter seeks to understand the reasons why the contributors to this volume lean towards critical conclusions about the developments they have observed and have a hard time conceiving of potentially positive aspects and opportunities that come with ongoing social service developments. The chapter argues that trajectories of social service innovation are often measured against the yardstick of an ideal-typical model of citizenship-based rights and privileges, which has left its mark on the assessment of the trends identified. In this social citizenship-based perspective on social services, public involvement plays a major role in securing inclusive access to social services, a more or less even distribution in terms of their qualitative aspects and the scope of services available, and an orientation of social services as tools for supporting self-determination and empowerment of citizens making use of social services. When appraising the role of the state in social services, it is then important to consider the details of implementation, the specific institutional settings and the contextual factors of social service design.