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  • Series: Southern European Societies series x
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Francisco Entrena-Durán, Rosa M. Soriano-Miras and Ricardo Duque-Calvache

Social problems are socially constructed. This means they are both the expected or unexpected (in the majority of cases it is the latter) results of specific social practices and actions. Such practices or actions happen within specific processes or social spheres. This book addresses a series of social problems constructed or produced in the current context of southern European societies, classified in three groups: first, prejudice, discrimination and identity; second, social problems in the life course; and, third, spatial, productive and consumer reconfigurations. Such problems are examined comparing the following four countries: Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece. These four countries, while revealing a remarkable diversity of historical traditions and socioeconomic and political circumstances, constitute a group with specific and shared social problems, as well as with forms of addressing social problems that differ from the way they are addressed by their northern counterparts.

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Julio Iglesias de Ussel, José Manuel García Moreno and Fernando Sadio Ramos

The period from 2007 to the present has caused tension in contemporary European advanced societies. There have been attempts to explain this tension from the point of view of social unrest, a concept that has been articulated from diverse empirical evidence: the transformations of the labor markets, the impoverishment of households, changes in the political culture, new forms of social mobilization, a crisis of the middle classes, an institutional crisis – political, democratic – a crisis of values, etc. Starting from this context, in this chapter we will present, from the theoretical and empirical point of view, a proposal of conceptualization of social unrest that may be applicable to the countries of southern Europe and, specifically, to Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, looking for similarities and differences between them, and trying to understand social unrest not only in its material dimension, but also in its cultural dimension.

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Esther Igorra Canillas, Antonio Trinidad Requena and Inam Benali Tahiri

While economic globalization is a reality, in recent decades social and political movements have emerged in defense of national identity, defending the local as opposed to the global. In the case of Europe, it has materialized in the rise of political parties that defend that socio-political position. Faced with this social reality, it is worth asking about the degree of satisfaction of European citizens with regard to national, European and international institutions, taking into account the possible effects of the economic crisis of 2008 on public opinion. Are the institutions better or worse valued after the economic crisis? Do European citizens trust national institutions more than international institutions? In order to answer these questions, we propose to carry out comparative research between the countries of southern Europe: Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal, based on the Eurobarometer Standard Surveys, in the period between 2002 and 2018.

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Pablo Galindo-Calvo, Beatriz Jiménez-Roger, Francisco Javier Cantón-Correa and Maria do Nascimento Esteves-Mateus

This chapter presents a sociological analysis of the intensification of Islamophobia in recent years in Europe, as well as its causes and consequences in the different fields of social, politic, economic, labor, educative, religious and cultural life. On one hand, our work will be focused on a qualitative analysis of the values, beliefs, speeches and subjectivities that exist in the social communication process, which greatly condition, within the framework of the new information and communication technologies, the formation of public opinion. On the other hand, we will proceed to review the evolution of this issue in recent years, focusing our analysis on Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal. For that purpose, we will analyze national victimization surveys, statistics of national hate crimes published by different governments, data compiled by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), reports of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), data of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), among others.

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Juan Miguel Valdera-Gil, Francisco Entrena-Durán and Philippe Cardon

At the present time, while hunger and malnutrition affect the poorest countries on the planet, in developed societies diseases linked to overweight and obesity are threatening to become a medical pandemic. Changes in dietary habits and in lifestyles explain a lot of the problems with overweight and obesity that are now so widespread in developed societies. Particularly, with respect to Portugal and Spain, obesity affects a significant part of the child population, but it does not do so equally across all social sectors. So, the evidence indicates that in both countries the children of the most disadvantaged social sectors in terms of income and education are more likely to suffer overweight or obesity than children from families with higher education and incomes. As a reaction to this, food policies for obesity prevention and education among the child population are being carried in Spain and Portugal by educational and health care authorities.

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Félix Fernández Castaño, María Jesús Santiago Segura, Alessandro Gentile and Luis Fernando López García

The purpose of this chapter is to outline early school leaving as a social problem and as a specific weakness in the educational system of south European Mediterranean countries. In the first part, we observe statistical evidence from Eurostat in order to describe the recent evolution of this phenomenon in Spain, Italy and Greece. Then, in the second part of our contribution, we offer a comparison between the most important government actions taken in these three countries in their attempts to reduce and prevent early school leaving during the last decade of economic crisis. We conclude that, in the interests of contrasting school drop-out effectively, it would be appropriate to increase coordinated and comprehensive administrative actions in education policy at a national and at a European level.

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Nayla Fuster, Sonia Bertolini and Ricardo Duque-Calvache

Leaving the parental home is a milestone in young adults’ biography, as well as a mechanism of social reproduction in family and housing spheres. The average age for leaving home is clearly higher in southern European countries than in their central and northern neighbors, mainly due to the labor and real estate markets. However, the decision to leave – or not – the parental home is also related to expectations, strategies and fears (of the individuals and of their families). This research is based on a qualitative analysis of young people’s discourses (recorded through interviews and focus groups) in the regions of Andalusia (Spain) and Catania (Italy). The results highlight the importance of the family in both local cultures, as expected; but also partly defy the predicted outcomes, decreasing the importance of the crisis on the residential behavior and reinforcing the relevance of residential strategies.

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Juan López Doblas, Isabel Palomares-Linares and Mariano Sánchez Martínez

Loneliness is a social problem that has been typically associated to the subjective perception of a deficit in interpersonal relationships. Loneliness affects especially elderly people, and it is often associated with processes such as health decline or loss of a partner. Moreover, it has been found that in Europe the prevalence of loneliness is higher in Mediterranean than in Nordic countries, maybe because of material and cultural differences between them. However, so far southern European countries have not been specifically compared with each other to ascertain whether there are singularities in the way in which loneliness is affecting the elderly in these countries. Our study fills this information gap. Using secondary data from the sixth wave of SHARE (The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe), we have found significant differences in the way loneliness affect people over 65 in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. This leads us to question global considerations about the countries of southern Europe regarding loneliness in older adults that prevail in the international literature.

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Rafael Martínez Martín, Teresa T. Rodríguez Molina and Antonio Martínez López

Unemployment and job security are problems that have become part of the main concerns in Western countries. Demographic changes, the continued fluctuation of labor markets, the advancement of economic globalization, and the creation of new information technologies in the technology sector are explanatory factors of labor reality. The labor differences between the north and the south have been a constant that has marked notable differences in the countries of the European Union. This chapter analyzes the main labor indicators of the labor market in Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal, with the objective of understanding and analyzing their employment situation with respect to the average of the European Union as a whole. In this way, we intend to find out if the southern countries continue to have the worst working conditions or, on the contrary, the north–south differences have been reduced.

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Rocío Fajardo Fernández, Edmé Domínguez-Reyes and Cristina Fuentes-Lara

The industry is an economic sector that in a global and macro view has decreased in the old and traditional industrialized countries. We can find some evidence about how this is related to the growth of the same sector in some parts in the global south, but in this chapter we want to deepen the knowledge about the parts of it which still remain in Europe. Our center of attention is the working people in that sector in the countries of the south. We apply a gender analysis to secondary data and observe that, while employment has been destroyed for both men and women, the overall proportion of men has significantly increased. At the same time, we can talk about a feminization of labour conditions, such as the decrease of the wages in firms with less than 10 workers, which are the majority in the sector.