Fostering Social Cohesion
Social cohesion after 1945 was promoted through a citizenship regime constructed around the paradigmatic figure of the "citizen-worker": countries judged their capacity to manage challenges to social cohesion in terms of institutions' ability to integrate citizens into employment and to manage life-cycle risks associated with non-employment. "Falling out" of the labour force, because of childcare responsibilities, age, job loss or accident and illness constituted the principal risks addressed by social citizenship. Full-employment policies and job creation were central policy goals. Unions and employers were important agenda-setters in many jurisdictions. Social indicators of a society's well-being focused on growth in GNP, employment and unemployment rates, wage rates and other labour market measures, while income security programmes were delivered in accordance with adults' relationship to the labour market.
The paradigmatic figure of the citizen-worker is now under stress because of labour market restructuring which increases non-standard employment, income polarisation, and poverty, while even a full-time job is less likely to bring earnings high enough to raise a family above the poverty line.
A central claim of this project is that in our new times - whether those of Canada's Social Union, Tony Blair's UK, Lionel Jospin's France or the European Union - efforts go to rebuilding social cohesion around the child and the poor person. This process is observable in the policy ideas being put forward, in the development of new social indicators that tend to focus on "social capital" in addition to labour market issues, in new policy designs such as active labour market policies and a renewal of family policies, and in new, decentralised, community-based modes of service delivery. We hypothesise that these represent both a response to, and stimulus for the retreat of the citizen-worker model and "private" family and community strategies for building social cohesion. Our objective is to explore this hypothesis and its significance for Canadian policy-making in the era of globalisation, by specifying and explaining variations in national, infra-national and supra-national strategies and in linking these variations to the particular social and institutional conditions in which they are embedded.
This research group holds a grant from the SSHRC (2001-2007) in the strategic Theme "Exploring Social Cohesion in a Globalizing Era"