chapter  1
European societies
Inclusions/exclusions?
ByAlison Woodward, Martin Kohli
Pages 18

Inclusions and exclusions are not necessarily opposites. In sociological terms the two are intricately linked, leading to contradictions and paradoxes. Twentiethcentury European social development has been characterized by an increasing inclusion of its people into the expanding collectivities of nationally based welfare entitlement pools and political bodies, and ultimately European-wide citizenships. At the same time, some countries have demonstrated growing income gaps and cultural cleavages, and increasing numbers of people have been threatened by poverty, excluding them from economic and social wellbeing. At the level of differences among countries, similar contradictions can be noted. Socio-economic conditions have greatly improved for some of the newer members of the European Union such as Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain, while the drama of transformation in Eastern Europe has resulted in massive losses. Inclusion in the European process does not necessarily lead to an expansion of internal social inclusions; in countries such as Sweden and Finland it has been paralleled by a retrenchment of welfare rights. Where inclusion in the European process has raised the material well-being of a country, it may paradoxically exacerbate perceived differences. The frame of reference is no longer restricted to one’s own country but is widened to include the other European countries as well.