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Public attitudes towards Social Europe: At the crossroads of European integration and the welfare state

European integration challenges the foundations of the national welfare states in various ways. Although the European project started out as an economic endeavour, the EU has gradually assumed considerable authority in social policy. The EU has taken various regulative actions in the domains of equality and working conditions, and a considerable share of the EU-budget is devoted to regional redistribution (by means of the structural funds). Furthermore, supra-national constraints to the member states’ fiscal and budget policies limit the redistributive options available to the national welfare states. The constitutive components of Social Europe relate to the protection and extension of social rights as well as to constrained policy options for national welfare states. This Europeanization of social policy creates tensions between winners and losers of European integration. In addition, conflict over Social Europe is likely to be structured along ideological lines as well. Although the role of the EU and the scope of its competences in social policy are contested, citizens’ opinions concerning European social policy have received relatively little scholarly attention to date. This project attempts to uncover the emerging conflict on the issue of Social Europe. Using Belgian and international survey data, we investigate the structure of citizens’ attitudes regarding the role of the European Union in social policy and we shed light on the determinants (individual and contextual) of attitudes towards Social Europe.

Date:1 Nov 2013 →  27 Apr 2018
Keywords:Social Europe, Public opinion
Disciplines:Applied sociology, Policy and administration, Social psychology, Social stratification, Social theory and sociological methods, Sociology of life course, family and health, Other sociology and anthropology
Project type:PhD project