A European Perspective
Edited by Dominique Anxo, Gerhard Bosch and Jill Rubery
Chapter 7: From Selective Exclusion Towards Activation: A Life Course Perspective on the French Social Model
Christine Erhel, Léa Lima and Chantal Nicole-Drancourt INTRODUCTION For several decades now, advanced societies have been challenged by a series of radical changes. Trends towards increasing individualisation and liberalisation of social behaviour have coincided with a major process of global economic restructuring and significant shifts in societal demographic structures. These transformations are associated with growing variation in individuals’ life trajectories, thereby undermining the traditional linearity and coherence of people’s biographies. Life trajectories have become increasingly deinstitutionalised and destandardised1 at the same time as traditional welfare systems are also becoming destabilised. The result is an emergence of new social risks; these are associated on the one hand with changes in social organisation consequent on the increased fragility of marriage, later and reduced childbirth, the growing share of single-parent families, and a decline in intergenerational solidarity; and on the other hand with changes in labour market patterns, including increased occupational and geographical mobility, the growth of new forms of employment and working time arrangements, and the general resurgence of marginal employment forms and social exclusion. These new social risks, unless new approaches are developed, are sufficient to challenge the principle of the social contract that can be said to govern the organisation of many Western societies, including France. In the mid 1970s, France adopted an employment policy that was designed to cope with the problems of downsizing, weak employment growth and growing unemployment, through managing the size and structure of the labour supply. As in some other European Member States such...
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