Embedding European identity in context: changing social solidarities in Europe

Jim Barry, Elisabeth Berg and John Chandler

in Reinventing Social Solidarity Across Europe

Published by Policy Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9781847427274
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447305552 | DOI:
Embedding European identity in context: changing social solidarities in Europe

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This chapter argues that discussions of ‘solidarity’ in a European context tend to be based on a top-down conception in which it is seen as embedded in fiscal and social policies designed to provide a minimum level of social security to all European citizens. At the same time, it is widely recognized that the pervasive influence of neo-liberalism has rendered such policies problematic and undermined their legitimacy. However, as Clarke has argued, neo-liberalism is ‘enacted in different hybridized formations – in different national politics, in different regional contexts’. The chapter focuses on one source of opposition to neo-liberal reforms in the vibrant and contentious energies of social movements. Such social movement activity does not just occur on the streets or in political forums external to the welfare state – it also occurs within the state apparatus, as welfare professionals sometimes act in concert with others on the basis of values and ideas forged through their broader social movement participation. This analysis suggests that instead of focusing on ‘top-down’ conceptions of solidarity, we should begin to look at the forms taken by such ‘bottom-up’ kinds of solidarity.

Keywords: solidarity; social movements; Europe; neo-liberalism; welfare

Chapter.  5720 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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