Redefining Vulnerability: A New Social “Philosophy” of European Union During COVID–19 Pandemic

##plugins.themes.bootstrap3.article.main##

  •   Georgeta Ghebrea

Abstract

Social policy is based, since its inception, on a certain “philosophy” regarding the desirable social model, encompassing religious, political and social values, as well as appropriate objectives and tools for protecting vulnerable target groups. This philosophy differs both geographically and historically. Thus, European social policies have a specific axiological foundation comparing to social models developed on other continents. Even if relatively stable, this foundation is continuously redefined and, therefore, the European social model is an evolving concept. Our paper analyses how social vulnerability and vulnerable groups are redefined within the European social policies, during Covid-19 pandemic. If in recent decades the European social policies have tried to implement more selective and means-tested social protection, the approach to social protection during the pandemic is different, there are indications of increasing the universalisation of social benefits for covering new vulnerabilities. In our analysis, the pandemic accentuated some pre-existing trends to redefine the predilect target groups and their social protection: larger decommodification, protection for atypical employment, social security schemes covering new risks, and instruments for a new work-life balance. At the same time, European social protection policies tend towards synergy with actions in the fields of digitalisation and ecology. Are these changes temporary or will they last even after the pandemic? Of course, it is difficult to make predictions, but we believe that some of them anticipate possible structural reforms of more humane, less biopolitical European social protection policies. Our analysis is based on data from social statistics, official documents and public speeches.


Keywords: European Social Model, COVID-19 Pandemic, Social Protection, Vulnerability.

References

Ahrendt, D., Mascherini, M., Nivakoski, S., Sandor, E. (2021). Living, working and COVID-19: Mental health and trust decline across EU as pandemic enters another year. Dublin: Eurofound.

Bauman, Z. (2000), Liquid Modernity. Malden: Polity Press.

Beck, U. (1992), Risk Society. Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage Publications.

Beck, U. (2001). La Politique dans la Société du Risque. Revue du MAUSS, 1(2001), 376–392. French.

Boz, Ç. & Tekin-Koru, A. (2020, May 8). The pandemic and the recolonisation of time. Social Europe, https://www.socialeurope.eu/the-pandemic-and-the-recolonisation-of-time.

Brown K., Ecclestone K., Emmel N. The Many Faces of Vulnerability. Social Policy & Society. 2017; 16(3), 497–510.

Cutter Bryan S. L. & Boruff W. L. S. (2003). Social Vulnerability to Environmental Hazards. Social Science Quarterly. 84(2), 242-261.

Dogan, M. (2010). Comparisons en sciences politiques et sociologie. Iasi, Romania : European Institute. French.

Eichengreen, B. (2018, January 12). Two Myths About Automation. Social Europe. https://socialeurope.eu/two-myths-automation.

Elbe, S. (2011). Pandemics on the Radar Screen: Health Security, Infectious Disease and the Medicalisation of Insecurity. Political Studies, Vol. 59: 848-846.

Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The Three World of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Esping-Andersen, G., Gallie, D., Hemerijck, A., & Myles, J. (2002). Why We Need a New Welfare?. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

European Commission (2010, March 3). Communication from the Commission: Europe 2020: A Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth. Brussels: European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/eu2020/pdf.

European Commission (2017, November 16). European Pillar of Social Rights. Luxembourg: EU Publication Office.

Foucault, M. (1976), Histoire de la sexualité. Tome I. La volonté de savoir. Paris, France: Gallimard. French.

Foucault, M. (1990), The Use of Pleasure. Volume 2 of The History of Sexuality. New York: Vintage Books.

Hall, P.A. (1993). Policy Paradigms, Social Learning, and the State: The case of Policymaking in Britain. Comparative Politics, 25 (3), 275-296.

Hemerijck, A., Huguenot-Noël, A. (2021). The Covid-19 wake-up call to buttress social investment. In Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, The Coronavirus Crisis and the Welfare State (pp. 54-60). Berlin: Social Europe Publishing, 2021.

Jestl, S. & Stehrer, R. (2021). (Post-) pandemic employment dynamics in a comparative perspective. ETUI Policy Brief. 12, 1-11.

Karaye, M. & Horney, J.A. (2020). The Impact of Social Vulnerability on COVID-19 in the U.S.: An Analysis of Spatially Varying Relationships. American Journal of Preventing Medicine. 59 (3), 317-325.

Kuran, C.H.A., Morsut, C., Kruke, B.I., Kruger, M., Segnestam, L., Orru, K., et al. (2020). Vulnerability and vulnerable groups from an intersectionality perspective. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. 50(101826): 1-8.

Laurent, E. (2021. June 17). From Welfare to Farewell: The European Social-ecological State Beyond Economic Growth. ETUI Research Paper - Working Paper 2021.04. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3873766.

Merler, S. (2020, July 27). Next Generation EU: how does it work and what does it mean for Europe? Algebris, https://www.algebris.com/policy-research-forum/next-generation-eu-how-does-itwork-and-what-does-it-mean-for-europe/.

Misztal, B.A. (2011). The Challenges of Vulnerability. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Morel, N., Palier, B., Paleme, J. (2009). What Future for Social Investment? Stockholm: Institute for Futures Studies.

Myant, M. (2021). The economic and social consequences of Covid‑19. In B. Vanhercke, S. Spasova, & B. Fronteddu (Eds.), Social policy in the European Union: state of play 2020. Facing the pandemic (pp. 53-70). Brussels: European Trade Union Institute and European Social Observatory.

Rosanvallon, P. (1995). La Nouvelle Question sociale. Repenser l'Etat-providence, Paris : Seuil. French.

Schmit, N. (2021, May 10). Austerity would be the wrong answer to this crisis. Interview by Cordula Schnuer, Delano, https://delano.lu/d/detail/news/austerity-would-be-wrong-answer-crisis/214578.

Schraad-Tischler, D., Schiller, C., Heller, S.M., Siemer, N. (2017). Social Justice in the EU – Index Report 2017. Gütersloh, Germany: Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Smeeding, T., Palmer, J. L., Boyle Torrey, B. (1988). The Vulnerable. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Press.

Smeeding, T.M. (2016). Multiple Barriers to Economic Opportunity for the “Truly” Disadvantaged and Vulnerable. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 2(2), 98-122.

Standing, G. (2011). The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Taylor-Gooby, P. (2004). New risks, new welfare. The transformation of the European welfare states. New York: Oxford University Press.

Titmuss, R. (1958). Essays on the Social Welfare. London: Allen and Unwin.

Watts, M. J. & Bohle, H. G. (1993). The space of vulnerability: the causal structure of hunger and famine. Progress in Human Geography, 17(1), 43–67.

Wickham, J. (2002). The End of the European Social Model: Before It Began?. Appendix II of ICTU submitted to the National Forum on Europe, Dublin, January 30, 2002, 1-17. Retrieved from https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.180.9887&rep=rep1&type=pdf

##plugins.themes.bootstrap3.article.details##

How to Cite
Ghebrea, G. (2022). Redefining Vulnerability: A New Social “Philosophy” of European Union During COVID–19 Pandemic. European Journal of Theology and Philosophy, 2(5), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.24018/theology.2022.2.5.73