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Sticking Together or Falling Apart?

Sticking Together or Falling Apart?: Solidarity in an Era of Individualization and Globalization

Paul de Beer
Ferry Koster
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Sticking Together or Falling Apart?
    Book Description:

    This book examines, both theoretically and empirically, the impact of globalization and individualization on social solidarity. It focuses both on informal solidarity, such as volunteering, charitable giving, and informal care, and on formal solidarity, such as social benefits and development aid. It challenges the common belief that social solidarity is endangered by the increasing competition and capital flows between countries and by growing selfishness of modern citizens. The book scrutinizes the theoretical arguments that both informal solidarity and social solidarity organized through the welfare state are eroding. Empirically, it is the first thorough study of international comparative data on solidarity, globalization and individualization. The book concludes that, overall, solidarity is rising rather than declining. The impact of globalization and individualization is much more ambiguous than is often contended. While particular aspects of globalization and individualization might harm solidarity, other elements foster solidarity instead. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1052-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. 1 Individualization, globalization and solidarity
    (pp. 9-14)

    We are inclined to compare the present with the past. Due to impressive technological progression we have means of transport and communication that we could not have imagined in the past and that have changed our world dramatically. Looking at societal developments we usually emphasize the differences with the past and forget about the common threads between the now and the then. But is the now really that different from the past or are we simply labelling it “renewed”, in the same way as we do with washing powders? Concentrating on the three central themes of this book, it is...

  4. 2 Taking care of each other Trends in social solidarity
    (pp. 15-40)

    It is not uncommon these days to claim that social solidarity is declining. Modern citizens are often said to be less willing to act unselfishly and support each other or to contribute to their community than they were in the past. A common complaint is that our fellow citizens aim for their self-interest at the expense of collective well-being. To many, this claim seems self-evident, making it unnecessary to provide any further evidence for it. However, there are many interpretations of solidarity, and it is often unclear to which of the many kinds they are referring. Not all interpretations of...

  5. 3 Altruism or self-interest? Solidarity and the welfare state
    (pp. 41-52)

    The basic assumption of this book is that social solidarity constitutes the foundation of the welfare state. If individualization or globalization erodes solidarity, this will inevitably undermine the welfare state. At face value, this might seem self-evident, since the welfare state embodies the greater part of organized solidarity. However, on closer inspection, the relationship between social solidarity and the welfare state is more complex. This chapter examines this relationship. First, we define what we consider to be the core of the welfare state. Next, we argue that the income transfers via the welfare state can rightly be called acts of...

  6. 4 Falling apart? The many meanings of individualization
    (pp. 53-70)

    The process of individualization is regarded by many as one of the most important social-cultural developments of the postwar period. For the most part, however, the growing literature on individualization lacks firm empirical underpinning. Most authors on individualization, among whom are renowned sociologists such as Beck, Giddens and Bauman, confine themselves to describing some broad, general trends that, in their opinion, should suffice to show that a process of individualization is taking place. This approach makes it rather difficult to judge the importance of the individualization process, and indeed, whether there really is a process of individualization taking place. In...

  7. 5 Independent yet solidary The impact of individualization on solidarity
    (pp. 71-100)

    Complaints about the erosion of social solidarity often go hand in hand with a simple explanation. Declining solidarity is allegedly caused by the process of individualization and, thus, progresses with each new generation. At face value, it is obvious that individualization is related to the erosion of solidarity. As social solidarity refers to mutual bonds and commitment, individualization points to the loosening of the ties between the individual and society. Thus considered, individualization and erosion of solidarity are two sides of the same coin: individualization undermines solidarity, and restoring solidarity is only possible by turning the individualization process back. If...

  8. 6 A borderless world? Developments in globalization, 1970-2005
    (pp. 101-124)

    To an outside observer we live in an era of globalization. When we wake up, we eat our breakfast, drink a cup of coffee or tea, perhaps a glass of orange juice, all made from ingredients from different parts of the world, while we are reading the world news in our morning papers. After we finish breakfast, it is time to get in our foreign-made car to get to the multinational company we work for, in the meantime listening to rock classics on the radio. As we arrive at work, we start up our computer and get in touch with...

  9. 7. Threats and opportunities The impact of globalization on the welfare state
    (pp. 125-156)

    Public opinion towards the welfare state has changed completely in the last 30 years. Whereas in earlier times people were very optimistic about the welfare state and the belief was widespread that social rights could be combined with full employment, attention has slowly shifted to the welfare state’s inability to reach these goals. At the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, confidence in the welfare state decreased because it was associated with less economic growth and even with financial crises. More and more attention was given to the idea that welfare states may not only solve...

  10. 8 Globalization versus localization The relationship between openness and solidarity
    (pp. 157-192)

    The level of openness may have an impact on the social structures of countries and the behavior and attitudes of its citizens. The economic openness of a country implies that a large number of people works for a company involved in international trade, affecting their employment security since there is a chance that the company could decide to move its production to another part of the world. In countries with a higher level of social openness, people are more in contact with other parts of the world, for instance through the Internet, and these countries are also characterized by greater...

  11. 9 Myths and facts Pressures on the welfare state
    (pp. 193-218)

    Little by little it has become received wisdom that modern citizens are individualized and, thus, are no longer attracted to traditional institutions and collective arrangements. Whether it is a residents’ association or a trade union, voluntary work or the welfare state, modern citizens are only prepared to contribute to them if it is in their personal interest. However, since the well-educated, articulate citizen of today is capable of taking care of himself, he hardly ever considers this to be in his own self-interest. As a consequence, public support for the welfare state is crumbling.

    Simultaneously, modern societies are increasingly exposed...

  12. 10 Between community care and European welfare state Policy alternatives for the national welfare state
    (pp. 219-232)

    Although the analyses in the preceding chapters do not add fuel to the belief that individualization and globalization render the welfare state unsustainable in the long run, they nevertheless point to some weaknesses of many present welfare states. These weaknesses relate mainly to the balance between one-sided and two-sided solidarity and to the strong focus of contemporary welfare states on the national level. This final chapter discusses some policy options that address these weaknesses. However, neither theoretical considerations nor empirical results are conclusive with respect to the direction these changes should take. On the one hand, there is a case...

  13. References
    (pp. 233-240)
  14. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 241-242)
    Paul de Beer and Ferry Koster
  15. Index
    (pp. 243-244)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-245)