Labour Market Transitions and the Promotion of Capability
Edited by Ralf Rogowski, Robert Salais and Noel Whiteside
Chapter 8: Creating Collective Capability: Historical Perspectives on Co-ordinating Public Action
1 Noel Whiteside Individual human beings, with their plural identities, multiple affiliations and diverse associations are quintessentially social creatures with different types of societal interactions. (Sen, 2009: 246–247) INTRODUCTION The financial crash of 2008 demonstrated that markets are neither selfstabilising nor the most efficient means of distributing goods and services. Yet the crash has not generated new analysis to change the direction of public policy. Much goes on the same as before. Bankers’ bonuses are restored even as unemployment escalates: future cuts in public services and higher taxation are the price to be paid for bailing out financial institutions ‘too big to fail’. Yet this crisis necessarily must cause us to rethink the principles of social justice that co-ordinate the administration of social policies – to allow new solutions to permeate political discussion, to change the orientation of both political leaders and the publics they serve. In this, Europe’s rich historical experience in co-ordinating public action can inform discussion by demonstrating the different principles on which social rights were (and are) founded. In light of recent events, public administration should question the automatic adherence to market paradigms that have underpinned policy delivery in recent years. For, as this chapter will demonstrate, there are alternatives. Evidence drawn from earlier forms of public intervention in urban economies shows how major industrial and commercial centres achieved the modernisation and co-ordination of economic and social action under varied political agendas. Such experiments reflected particular conceptions of social order and social justice that legitimated behaviour...
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