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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.

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Edited by Stefania Marino, Judith Roosblad and Rinus Penninx

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Edited by Stefania Marino, Judith Roosblad and Rinus Penninx

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Katharine McGowan, Frances Westley and Ola Tjörnbo

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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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Stefania Marino, Rinus Penninx and Judith Roosblad

The book offers an analysis of the relationship between trade unions, immigration and migrant workers across 11 European countries in the period between 1990 and 2015. This introductory chapter explains the editors’ approach to this study, which is based on the comparative framework as developed in an earlier book by Penninx and Roosblad in 2000. This framework is critically reconsidered and its validity is checked in the light of recent contextual changes. It informs the development of the main questions that will underpin both the structure and content of the 11 country cases and the comparative analysis presented in the concluding chapter. In addition, this introduction addresses relevant methodological aspects and outlines the structure of the book.

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Xiaowei Zang and Lucy Xia Zhao

The study of the family and marriage in China is interesting given profound changes in fertility transition, household structure, mate selection, divorce, old age support, and so on, since the nineteenth century. This chapter first reviews the English literature on a few selected aspects of the family institution and marriage in China. Next, it summarizes the outline of each of the chapters, which discuss a wide range of topics including love and marriage, educational endogamy, family planning, son preference, the marriage squeeze, family decision-making power, filial piety and old age support, intermarriage and intercultural dating, international adoption from mainland China, and many more.

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Peter Raeymaeckers, Bettina Leibetseder, Robert Fluder, Erika Gubrium and Danielle Dierckx

In this chapter we focus on social assistance services, such as housing, childcare, counselling and other types of benefits, that are provided to people receiving a guaranteed subsistence income from the state, defined here as social assistance beneficiaries. These services are delivered by social workers in public agencies, often collaborating with other public and non-profit service providers at the local level. We specifically address how these social assistance services have been affected by the so-called ‘activation turn’ in social assistance. We present evidence on the horizontal division of labour between local government actors and a variety of service organisations (public, non-profit and private) and how this division of labour is affected by activation policies in four European cities: Graz in Austria, Antwerp in Belgium, Berne in Switzerland and Oslo in Norway. At the end of the chapter we reflect on the consequences of the activation turn in terms of increasing pressure on local actors. We hypothesise that the latter are increasingly ‘creaming the crop’ by creating a selection mechanism that favours the ‘best’ clients, those who are able to make the transition towards the labour market, over the ‘worst’ clients, those who are not able to find a job.

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Teppo Kröger and Angela Bagnato

Provisions and patterns of care for older people have recently undergone significant change all over Europe. This chapter maps the general directions of change in long-term care in different parts of Europe during the early twenty-first century, based on information reported in working papers produced by national teams in the course of the COST Action IS1102. The chapter covers 11 European countries, representing the Nordic countries (with Denmark, Finland, Iceland), Central/ Central-Eastern Europe (with the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia) and the Mediterranean region (Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain), plus the United Kingdom. Data-driven reading of the working papers helped identify five key dimensions of policy developments: (1) decentralized care–centralized care; (2) social care–health care; (3) outsourcing–in-house provision of care; (4) home-based care–institutional care; and (5) formal care–informal care. The chapter reports recent and ongoing change along each of these dimensions in different parts of Europe. It concludes that the main directions of change are: from the central state to the local level, from public provision to for-profit services, from institutional care to home care, and from formal care to informal family care. Altogether, these developments imply that governments in Europe seem in general to be trying to reduce their responsibilities for care of their older populations.

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Blanca Deusdad, Sagit Lev, Charles Pace and Sue Vella

De-institutionalisation of care for older people in Mediterranean countries has not been sufficiently analysed, in terms of policy discourse and implementation. The aim of this chapter is to study and compare both aspects within a cluster of three different Mediterranean countries: Israel, Malta and Spain. Although these countries differ in their historical, geographic and demographic features, they share a number of features. The traditional provision of care by the family has decreased as women’s employment rates have risen and family sizes have shrunk. Despite attempts to counter this through various ‘ageing in place’ policies, in none of the three countries have such attempts managed to fully offset undue institutionalisation due to the lack of family or financial resources, let alone enable the return of older persons from institutions to the community. Despite differences, enough similarities exist to propose a Mediterranean variant of LTC for older persons. This is characterised by ongoing reliance on family care even in the face of rising female employment; by underdeveloped or under-resourced community services; and by growth in private care services including recourse to migrant care labour. These features have implications for older adults who lack family support or financial means, and for the sustainability of care policies in the face of rapid demographic ageing.