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.
Afterword 253 (Jean De Munck, Claude Didry, Isabelle Ferreras, Annette Jobert)
253 Afterword Jean DE MUNCK Claude DIDRY Isabelle FERRERAS Annette JOBERT Is the discourse of civil society as embraced by European elites merely a rhetorical flourish? If so, the traditional social partnership between labour and management risks drowning in a disparate, incoher- ent, and malleable citizen sector where representation is obscure and minimally controlled; while European democracy risks being dissolved away into a multitude of lobbies that are defined more by competing special interests than by the general interest – and all this under the auspices of a European Commission playing the supposedly neutral arbiter. This is an incontrovertible danger. If Europe forgets its founding fathers’ goal of helping build economic and social democracy at the transnational level; if it lacks strong consultative bodies placed under democratic control; if it fails to include actors working on behalf of the general interest, then this may well be the fate of “civil society” as a political practice. And yet, as this book shows, another way is possible. It sketches out a path towards a renewed alliance between social dialogue and civil society. Its goal is to update the structures of social dialogue in view of building a unified movement able to confront the two crises now threat- ening European – and global – society. The quantitative deficit behind the contemporary employment crisis cannot be dealt with without qualitatively redefining its meaning, and no true meaning can be found if those most affected by the crisis – the workers – are not involved in the redefinition process through...
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