We start from a social and sociological empiricism: look at the following discussion, click through it and we can be found on “labour and policy.”
“Labour and policy”: competitiveness versus solidarity? Academic year 08-09
Labour continues to be a central theme and (policy) issue both within economics and sociology. To an economist, labour is a crucial factor of production (together with capital and technology) within the pressure of (international) competitiveness. To a sociologist, labour is a key variable in terms of social cohesion or solidarity (division of income, status determination, social exclusion, timing, etc.)
This cluster focuses on current aspects of the labour phenomenon approached from both an economic and a sociological perspective. We will pay attention to the labour establishment (organisation of labour, labour market as mechanism for allocation and earnings development) as well as to the labour proportions (exchange/power, the role of the social partners and position of the government within the EU) within a fast-changing economic context (globalisation, technologic innovations,…). In addition, we will look at the possibilities and the consequences of economic and social policy related to labour. Central to this will be the premise of social inequality as scientific problem and policy-challenge.
This means that we will study the labour phenomenon within the framework of the welfare state especially (cf. Sociology of labour BA3). Central to this will be themes such as welfare and the inequality of welfare, growth and inflation, employment opportunities and labour proportions within the Knowledge Society, population and population groups (dejuvenation/greying), exclusion and discrimination. Special attention will be given to the consequences of the globalisation and the growing international competition (within the context of societal solidarity) on our labour- and economic establishment.
This ties into the intended Lisbon-strategy (2000). The European Council drew up a new strategic goal: to turn the European Union into the most dynamic and competitive region in the world, with a strong economic growth, more and better jobs and more social cohesion (Council of the European Union, 2000:4). The strategy in achieving this goal is based on three pillars: economic growth, high-quality employment growth and social cohesion.
For a preview of the problem of competitiveness and globalisation and social stratification: click to “facts and explanation:”
The integrated scientific approach is central in this study path that is unique to Flanders.
Curriculum (Tentative plan)
“State of the art”
1. Conceptual model: solidarity versus competitiveness en problematization
1. Labour en labour establishment
2. Sociology, social policy / welfare state
3. Competitiveness en solidarity
A new social issue?
2. Recent developments in the labour establishment and problems:
1. The post-industrial transition
2. Globalisation (SINdex) / competitiveness
3. Technological innovations
4. What is the impact on the demand for and supply of labour and the organisation of labour: winners and losers?
3. Labour market results and trends in international comparative perspective (Belgium/Flanders, Scandinavian countries, Ireland, Japan and the USA): influx, flow, and outflow.
4. The organisation of the labour market in terms of Flexicurity: the impact of (labour) legislation and institutions?
(The way in which labour markets in developed nations are regulated and institutionally directed, minimum wages, indexation, centralisation and coordination of the pay scale (including declaration of “generally binding”), institutional embedment and the impact of the unions, (de) regularisation of the labour market: limitations of temporary contracts, part-time labour, night-time labour, etc.
5. Labour relationships: divergence or convergence within EU and social policy
6. Regarding the relationship between labour, social security, and poverty
- Social security and work after “full employment”
- The relationships between unemployment and poverty, non-employment and poverty, low-pay work and poverty (including differential impact of various social security systems)
- Solidarity under pressure
Debate seminar with student input and presentations
Questions (in deliberation) to be determined such as:
Discriminated categories? Is there still (decent) work for the short-term educated?
Leverages to policy?
Debate: work your way out of poverty? Policy in question: subsidized employment, employment subsidies, reductions in social security contributions, service cheques.
Policy on the supply side: stricter remittance policy (suspensions), reduction of (para) fiscal charges on wages, combination work and remittances (PWA) etc.
Active labour market policy: policy in question (subsidized employment, employment subsidies, reductions in social security contributions, service cheques.) Policy on the supply side: stricter remittance policy (suspensions), reduction of (para) fiscal charges on wages, combination work and remittances (PWA) etc.
The social challenges for the EU versus North/South?
Deadline for submission of final paper
Content and methodologies
On Blackboard, a “portal site” is available with various (internet) directives to local, regional, national, and international sources and institutions that are relevant to “labour and policy.”