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The New Knowledge Economy in Europe

A Strategy for International Competitiveness and Social Cohesion

Edited by Maria João Rodrigues

Knowledge is fast becoming one of the main sources of wealth, yet it can also become a source of inequalities. The New Knowledge Economy in Europe attempts to determine whether it is possible to hasten the transition towards a knowledge-based economy and enhance competitiveness with increased employment and improved social cohesion across Europe. The book is an amalgamation of the scientific and political agendas which led to the European strategy for the knowledge-based economy adopted by the European Union.
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Chapter 3: A new European social model for the twenty-first century

A Strategy for International Competitiveness and Social Cohesion

Gøsta Esping-Andersen


3. A new European social model for the twenty-first century? Gøsta Esping-Andersen The history of European welfare states has combined rare moments of epochal change with long spells of politics as usual. It is now more than one hundred years ago that Bismarck launched modern social insurance, and a half century has elapsed since today’s welfare states were carved out of war-torn Europe. Both instances stand out because the architecture of the state was fundamentally recast, because visionary thinkers and bold statesmanship embraced new ideals of social justice. But, for the most part, social policy has simply meant incremental fine-tuning and adaptation to the existing edifice. In normal times, social policy is mainly conducted by bureaucrats and technicians. Epochal redefinitions belong to periods when our basic goals must be reconsidered. Gustav Moeller’s and Lord Beveridge’s designs for a modern welfare state were brought forth by the urgency of consolidating democracy and new social solidarities. While democracy is now an unquestioned reality in Europe, social cohesion is not. We are moving towards a new economy and society, both of which call for a new social model. Europe, today, stands at a cross-roads similar to the era when we invented the postwar welfare state. If the burning issue is to better align redistributive priorities and social rights to the evolving reality, this is not the right moment for bureaucrats or technicians to reign. What I here present is therefore meant as an effort to rethink the Gestalt...

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