Essays in Honour of Günther Schmid
Edited by Hugh Mosley and Jacqueline O’Reilly
Chapter 12: Managing social risks with transitional labour markets
Ton Wilthagen This chapter deals with some of the social risks that citizens in a modern society face. It is argued, following Giddens, that these risks are to a large extent manufactured, that is produced by collective economic and social processes. The chapter then distinguishes between two distinct approaches to social risks, in particular in the area of sickness absenteeism and incapacity to work. The ﬁrst approach is labelled a traditional and reactive approach, based solely on compensation for loss of income. The example discussed here is the comprehensive Dutch social security system, which is guided by the principle of risque social rather than risque professionel and deviates signiﬁcantly from other national systems. The second approach is characterized by a broad and proactive approach to social risks, illustrated by the way transitional labour markets deal with them. It is argued that a transitional labour market approach urges a redeﬁnition of social risks in terms of transition capacities and facilities. Moreover, it is suggested that the model of transitional labour markets be extended to life cycle-guided transitions within employment, aiming to prevent workers from becoming unﬁt for work or redundant because they can no longer live up to the demands their jobs impose on them. Finally, a case is made for establishing transition agencies in view of the remapping of responsibilities with respect to social risks. MANUFACTURED RISKS In the preface to Reﬂexive Modernization, Beck et al. (1994, p. vii) explain how the notion of risk is...
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