chapter  1
13 Pages

Introduction

WithPaolo Chiocchetti, Frédéric Allemand

Since the 1980s, the intensification of economic competition (globalisation, rise of new industrial powers, European integration, liberalisation, privatisations) has been transforming the constraints and nature of public policy-making, while the language of competitiveness has been colonising the scholarly and popular discussion on business strategy, public policy, and public governance. Solidarity, as embodied in complex national systems of social protection, redistribution, and market-correcting regulation (such as the welfare state, taxation, industrial and regional policy, industrial relations, and the third sector), has had to adapt to this challenge. The result has been a progressive move from a ‘protective and redistributive’ towards a ‘competitive and productive’ form of solidarity (Streeck 1999), whose concrete content, however awkwardly, oscillates between a surrender to the logic of the markets and intelligent efforts to harness them for public goals. The Great Recession of 2007–09 and the subsequent Eurozone crisis have further exacerbated the pressure on national systems of solidarity, leading to massive social problems and wide-ranging reforms in the name of competitiveness.