The Challenge of Social and Civil Dialogue
Democracy is not only realized through elections; it requires civic participation through permanent dialogue. This volume addresses this central, yet often overlooked, issue in a series of essays by renowned scholars from Europe and the United States, reviving a concept that dates back to the foundation of the European Union: social dialogue as a fundamental part of the construction of the union.
Having neglected the social dimensions of its institutions, the European Union is currently in deep crisis. European democracy is confronted with a radical new situation and new definitions of work and family, as well as of growth and economic achievement, must be embedded in European public policy.
The contributors to this book identify social and civil dialogue as key institutional processes that will help overcome the current crisis. Civic participation can no longer be limited to representative institutions as we know them; a new combination of deliberation, bargaining and social experimentation is required. This book maps out the complexity of this vital issue and its implications for the future of the European democratic project.
Introduction 9 (Jean De Munck, Claude Didry, Isabelle Ferreras, Annette Jobert)
9 Introduction Jean DE MUNCK1 Claude DIDRY2 Isabelle FERRERAS3 Annette JOBERT4 Democracy cannot be encapsulated in the idea of a freely elected government or a civil society functioning under the rule of law only. It is, incontestably, a political system, but it is also a social and economic project, and the Europe we know today was born of this conviction. It was a conviction shared by the majority of Europe’s political leaders as they worked to turn the page on a crisis that, having failed to resolve the social question, had plunged “Old Europe” into a bloody war. This book examines what has become of Europe’s project of social and economic democracy from today’s political and historical context – which is radically different from the one that mobilised Europe’s “founding fathers,” from Robert Schuman to Jacques Delors. 1. The (Dis)appearance of Social Dialogue After democracy’s triumph in 1945, economic and social democracy were made a cornerstone of the unification project undertaken in West- ern Europe. Peace among nations came hand in hand with class com- promise in post-war Europe, which was Christian and social democrat. In addition to partial disarmament, this peace was guaranteed by the creation of a common market whose member countries, for the first time in their histories, agreed to live together within stable, clearly drawn national borders. At the same time, Fordist and Keynesian policies brought about class compromise within nations that were opening up to progressively stronger cooperation on the European level. Western European states...
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