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Changes in Welfare Regimes and the Search for Flexibility and Employability.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter

Published

Publication date06/2003
Host publicationThe Political Economy of European Unemployment: European Integration and the Transnationalization of the Employment Question
EditorsHenk Overbeek
PublisherRoutledge
Pages29-50
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)0415268729
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameRoutledge/RIPE Studies in Global Political Economy
PublisherRoutledge

Abstract

This chapter argues that recent changes in labour market policies in the European Union are closely related to the more general restructuring, strategic reorientation, and rescaling of welfare regimes and that this latter transformation is related in turn to fundamental changes in the form and dynamic of capitalism. Distinguishing cause and effect in these interrelations is difficult, however, because so many features of our once taken-for-granted economic, political, social, and cultural landscape are changing at the same time. My discussion of these issues will focus initially on the structural coupling of economic and political transformations without attempting to judge the relative causal weight of economic and political factors. Thus I first present a four-dimensional framework for analysing changes in welfare regimes and then identify a tendential transformation in these regimes along all four dimensions. This sort of transformation can be discerned well beyond the member-states of the European Union, which suggests that any explanation couched purely in terms of specific features of the emerging European economy and/or polity will be limited. Accordingly I will argue that these changes can be explained in part through the more general restructuring, reorientation, and rescaling of the capitalist economy and in part through the more general restructuring, reorientation, and rescaling of the principles of statehood. Within this general context we can consider the distinctive features of these changes in the European Union and how they are mediated and overdetermined by its distinctive institutional features and balance of forces.