Social Policy Attitudes and Social Capital in Europe
Edited by Heikki Ervasti, Jørgen Goul Andersen, Torben Fridberg and Kristen Ringdal
Synøve Nygaard Andersen and Kristen Ringdal INTRODUCTION Providing its citizens with coverage from current social risks lies at the very core of the European welfare state (Esping-Andersen, 1999). Profound and complex changes in the economy and the labour market due to globalization, rising educational levels, the change in demographic composition and changing gender roles have severely altered the risk structure that the post-war welfare state was designed to cope with, creating ‘new social risks’ (see, for example, Esping-Andersen, 1999; Taylor-Gooby, 2004; Bonoli, 2007). The ‘success rate’ in adapting to and providing citizens with coverage from these new challenges, which include precarious employment, underqualification, long-term unemployment, being one of the working poor, family dissolution, poverty amongst lone parents, problems in maintaining the work–family balance and a polarization between ethnical minority and majority, has differed significantly between the different welfare regimes of Europe (Bonoli, 2007). In this chapter we look further into the extent to which people consider themselves as being exposed to some of the central social risks of our time. In our analyses we also wish to keep a focus on the interrelationship between social risks and social inequality – a connection surprisingly unexplored in scientific research (Taylor-Gooby and Zinn, 2006). Parallel to the aforementioned changes in the structure or composition of risks and the need for welfare state adaptations, we have seen fundamental changes in the discourses surrounding risk, risk management and risk responsibility. Firstly, the unpredictable, unavoidable and uncontrollable side effects of technological development and rapid social...
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