AbstractThis thesis is a qualitatively based study exploring the development of the 'European social model' and the particular argument that EU policy initiatives in this area indicate the end of old style, elite decision-making where the market was the primary frame of reference. It has been claimed that the European social model, and its emphasis upon partnership, participation and social dialogue, holds the potential to provide a greater balance between 'positive' and 'negative' integration by engaging a more bottom-up, problem solving approach to the social 'contradictions' of market convergence. As an increasingly significant area of policy relating to addressing rising levels of social inequality and unemployment, the reformed structural funds have become illustrative of these aims where the engagement of 'local knowledge' is seen as a key factor in enabling the success of the newly introduced community regeneration measures.
Regarding the aims of the European social model, the empirical section of the thesis explores the extent to which community groups are making a contribution to the community regeneration measures in the Objective 1 programme for west Wales and the valleys. The research centres upon the performance of the programme in south Wales, where the granting of Objective 1 status underlines its recognition as one of the most economically and socially deprived regions in the EU. The research considers questions such as whether there is a sufficient understanding from the European level of what are the social issues that must be addressed, whether these issues are being filtered back to the policy level, and whether economic efficiency can be reconciled with social needs within policy rhetoric claiming greater inclusivity and a more democratic and open debate.
The thesis locates these issues within a wider consideration of the contemporary project of integration and considers whether the aims of the 'European Social Model' are realistic in an era framed by the structuring influences of the market.
|Date of Award||2006|