Efficiency or compensation? The global economic crisis and the development of the European Union’s social policy

Imke Lammers, Minna M.L. van Gerven-Haanpää, Oliver Treib

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Abstract

How has the global social policy agenda evolved since the global economic crisis? To shed light on this question, this article looks at the discourses in European Union (EU) social policy. It draws on two rival theoretical approaches from the literature on globalisation and the welfare state, the efficiency and compensation hypotheses, and links these approaches to two fundamental rationales underlying the discourse in EU social policy. Based on an analysis of key documents from two Open Methods of Coordination (OMCs), the article shows that the logic underlying the efficiency hypothesis can be extended to discourses in EU social policy. While policy debates in one OMC remained largely unchanged, the discourse significantly shifted towards the economic rationale during and after the crisis in the other OMC. This suggests that the crisis at least partly strengthened the view that social policy should be geared towards economic efficiency, growth, and the creation of jobs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-322
Number of pages19
JournalGlobal Social Policy
Volume18
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jul 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • Discourse
  • Employment
  • EU social policy
  • Global economic crisis
  • Globalisation
  • OMC
  • Social inclusion

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