Entitlements and Impediments to Accessing Welfare
Edited by Frans Pennings and Martin Seeleib-Kaiser
Chapter 11: The construction of social rights
This chapter draws on a recent study of the social construction of social citizenship in eight European Union countries, considering both the historical evolution of social rights and the prevailing discourse of key policy actors. It observes that underlying their dramatically different historical trajectories, the countries had had some key transitions in common: an early consensus favouring social insurance for workers; some more or less limited constitutional acknowledgement of social rights; and, more recently, varying levels of submission to neo-liberal principles of social provision. Conceptual understandings of social rights among policy actors were found to be varied and inconsistent: social policy discourse across Europe is not cogently informed by any shared understanding of social citizenship. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the idea of a European Citizen's Income. It is suggested that such an idea could provide a focus, and attract consensus, in the same way that, in a previous era, social insurance once did. The right even to a modest European Citizen's income might provide a meaningful and unifying social dimension to a supra-national form of citizenship.
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