The social turn and the potential to reconstruct the social dimension of the European Union
The purpose of this chapter is to use the concept of ‘social turn’ to interpret social, economic and political processes identified in the recent academic discussion on the social dimension of the European Union (EU). Our first objective is to ascertain the findings explaining why the financial crisis has shaken some people’s faith in the gradual, linear and ultimately complete achievement of the social market economy, while compelling others to abandon such faith altogether. The identification of the main factors that contributed to the failure across the EU to satisfy the social needs of many of its citizens will enable us to point to areas that have become the subject of intellectual (but also political and ideological) debates on the weaknesses of prior strategies for adopting a European social model. The following section of this chapter explores the extent to which responses to the problems that have been identified moved away from the EU’s assumptions and practices in the social realm. Once that is established, we can assume that the more new proposals and actions differ from the old ones, the more sense there is in discussing the ‘social turn’. The deliberations provided in this and the following section of the book have been summarised in a table included in the final part of this chapter.