There is a tendency in the whole of Europe to lean more to the right politically with increasing numbers of far-right political parties having neo-liberal ideologies. These events are merely symptoms of the threats and failings of the welfare state model and social cohesion. The state is the present mechanism that is and has been holding European society together. This article will focus on the role that the welfare state model plays in maintaining the social cohesion of western societies and how this system is under an anticipated threat.
We identify certain phenomena which are threatening social cohesion in contemporary society. These threats are namely technological development and migration. Inspired by the theory of anticipation, we claim that these threats are growing and will jeopardize the welfare state model, negatively affecting social cohesion . We will try to draw conclusions of different trends in contemporary society which challenge the social cohesion of the post-industrial societies.
Social cohesion is not a problem for communities with few members. In these cases, society is defined and kept together by interactions between individuals included in the community. Tönnies , differentiated between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft as social groupings1. Gemeinschaft - often translated as community – refers to groupings based on feelings of togetherness and on mutual bonds, which are felt as a goal to be kept up, their members
being means for achieving this goal. Gesellschaft – often translated as society – on the other hand, refers to groups that are sustained in order for their members’ individual aims and goals to be achieved.
Gemeinschaft may be exemplified by a family or a neighborhood in a pre-modern (rural) society; Gesellschaft typically by a joint-stock company or non-governmental-organisations. Gesellschaft relationships, Tönnies argued, arose in an urban and capitalist setting, characterized by individualism and impersonal monetary connections between people. Social ties were often instrumental and superficial, with self-interest and exploitation increasingly the norm.
One can here draw parallels with the concepts of primary and secondary groups. A primary group is a typically small social group whose members share close, personal, enduring relationships. These groups are marked by members’ concern for one another, and shared activities and culture. This lays the foundation for a normativity which is self-generated and self-reproduced. Examples include family, childhood friends, and highly influential social groups. The concept of the primary group was introduced by Cooley . Although the group initially referred to the first intimate group of a person’s childhood, the classification was later extended to include other intimate relations. Primary groups play an important role in the development of personal identity. A primary group is a group in which one exchanges implicit item, such as love, caring, concern, animosity, support, and such. Relationships formed in primary groups are often long-lasting and goals in themselves. They also are often psychologically comforting to the individuals involved and provide a source of
support and encouragement.
People in a secondary group interact on a less personal level
than in a primary group, and their relationships are temporary
rather than long lasting. Since secondary groups are established
to perform functions, people’s roles are more interchangeable. A
secondary group is one you have chosen to be a part of. Therefore,
there is a base for a common normativity, which guides the actors´
behavior. Secondary groups are based on common interests and
activities. Secondary groups are groups in which one exchanges
explicit commodities, such as labor for wages, services for
payments, and such. Examples of these would be employment,
vendor-to-client relationships, and the like. We will approach the
problem of social cohesion from a system perspective by regarding
the state as a key actor
A state can be seen as one of these associations, which tries
to expand its social control over all of society, both geographically
and in terms of social structure . The state is encompassing
these other primary and secondary groups. A state is specifically
a political and geopolitical entity. It is created in order to decide
on and perform collective tasks for individuals and organizations
within society and is in that sense on a higher level. A nation is
a cultural and ethnic entity. The term “nation state” implies that
the two coincide, in that a state has chosen to adopt and endorse
a specific cultural group as associated with it. “Nation state”
formation can take place at different times in different parts of the
world. Migdal inserts an additional distinction between society
and state. His thinks it is crucial to make a separation of society
A society can be described as a group of people united by
a network of social relations with certain permanence and
continuity over time. Societies is territorially demarcated and
individuals in the community share common institutions and, to
a greater or lesser extent, a common culture and tradition. That
is what keeps a society together. A society needs its community
members and reproduces itself. It can be more simply described
as an economic, social and industrial infrastructure.
A community may be a single ethnic group, such as ethnic
Swedes or of a nation, such as Sweden. The more homogeneous
a society is in terms of communities and ethnic groups, the more
stable it is. Generally, the relationship between state and society is
not characterized by domination of one over the other, although this
might come to pass in certain circumstances. In both totalitarian
regimes2 and in welfare states, the state plays a dominant role in
holding society together, one with coercive means and the other
built on attraction. In fact, both entities influence each other, even
where one is weak. The reason for the weakness of these states,
for Migdal (1988: 30), lies in the particular structure of their
This leads to the hypothesis that if the structure of society
undergoes changes the role of the state also will change. We
apply this question to present day challenges and threats faced
by the European welfare state system. This requires identifying
structural changes in contemporary society and understanding
what these structural changes might bring in the future. Before
going to tackle these questions, we describe how we understand
social cohesion in the present day.
We understand a political system as a one that consists of
specialized actors authorized to exert political power. This includes
decisions about how the structure of society, laws and public
duties. A social system is the patterned series of interrelationships
existing between individuals, groups, and institutions and forming
a whole. The most typical example of a political system is a state.
An economic system can be understood as one that coordinates
resources in an organization.
Structure means the organization of the relations between the
elements of the system and how these follow different patterns.
Social cohesion depends on the way the society succeeds in
fulfilling human needs. This means that cohesion depends on how
the different systems affect individuals’ lives. The organization of
society will determine whether society will stay together.
Typical mechanisms for social cohesion would be religion
and political ideologies, backed up to a larger or smaller extent
by repressive law depending on the legitimacy of the system.
The legitimacy is then related to other factors than the ideology,
primarily the economic system and how it contributes to the
wellbeing of people. This is more or less a general phenomenon
when it comes to social cohesion. Another factor of importance
for the legitimation of a state is to what extent the leadership
is accepted; in connection with trust in society the prevalence
of corruption plays a role . Though, it seems that corruption
influences the degree of dissatisfaction of the political leadership
and the economic system without necessary threatening social
We will in this article deal with social cohesion from a western
world perspective relating to post-industrialized societies.
Sweden is a prominent example . The welfare state is used to
describe a state where a social system in which a government
is responsible for the economic and social welfare of its citizens
and has policies to provide free health care, money for people
without jobs, etc. . The political system is based on the premise
that the government (and not the individual, corporations, or the
local community) has the responsibility for the well-being of its
citizens, by ensuring that a minimum standard of living is within
everyone’s reach. This commitment is translated into provision of
universal and free education, universal medical care, insurance against disability, sickness, and unemployment, family allowances
for income supplement, and old age pensions . All these benefits
require a high tax system.
The welfare state model provides citizens with material
wellbeing, social security, health and education. It is basically
a secular model for society where the state apparatus plays a
central role for coordination. The production, distribution and
consumption of goods and services are taken care of by private
companies. Habermas  has described the modern society
as a combination of systems and lifeworld complementing each
other; systems, with the purpose of providing the individuals with
material wealth of different kinds and life-world by telling us who
we are and what we want.
What Habermas calls systems is following Max Weber.
Systems are fully rationalized. The principles of rationalisation
are efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. The point
of such rationalisation is to reduce the person to be a part of the
“machinery” by which the system does what it does; individual
scope of action and decision are minimized: “choices” are strictly
limited. By the lifeworld, Habermas means the shared common
understandings, including values that develop through face to
face contacts over time in various social groups, from families to
communities. The lifeworld carries all sorts of assumptions about
who we are as people and what we value about ourselves: what we
believe, what shocks and offends us, what we aspire to, what we
desire, what we are willing to sacrifice to which ends, and so forth.
For Habermas the lifeworld has to be just there, furnishing this
sense of who we are and who we value being, but it also requires
constant reaffirmation. When we perform the parenthood
function, and so forth, we reaffirm to ourselves and each other who
we are and what we value. Value-commitments are reaffirmed,
and the basis of influence is reestablished. What crucial is that
because the lifeworld consists of communicative action—people
reaching common understandings on everything from car pools to
community action to foreign policy.
Habermas theory is about communicative action. Only
communication has the ability to regenerate influence and valuecommitments.
The quantitative systems media – economy and
politics - money and power, can express influence and valuecommitments,
but they cannot generate these qualities—only the
communicative action in the life world can do that, according to
Habermas. Thus, the crucial point for the legitimacy of the system
depends on the lifeworld; it is a one-way direction of the lifeworld
making possible the legitimacy of the system. These systems
provide norms and imperatives which to a large extent become
Norms are not just a part of normative systems as religion
and law, but they also occur in the context of cognitive systems.
Norms can be derived from knowledge about a system. It may be
the technical knowledge on how to build a house or a bridge. This
can include the economic knowledge of how the market looks in
a certain respect, etc. It can refer to scientific knowledge about
the law of gravity, thermodynamics, photosynthesis, etc. Some of
these norms have the character of principles.
In this context the rationality that each system is built
around serves as a normative core. Rationality is determined
ultimately by the success criteria that each system is built around.
What distinguishes the economic system from the social is that
norms follow a rationality that is embedded in the system itself.
Social systems belong mainly to the life-world, using Habermas´
terminology. They are made up of norms that are created when
two or more individuals interact with each other by one or other
reason. The norms are created by individuals and are dependent
on values and aspirations of those involved in the particular case.
In the economic system the norms are given by the fundamental
principles that characterize the system. The economic system
is purpose-driven by its design. It provides on itself, as we have
pointed out, the value premises of operators’ behavior. The
market economy provides incentives and drivers for the players’
The market economy will benefit certain characteristics of the
individuals while – without banning them – are indifferent to other
qualities. Since growth is a necessary prerequisite in the capitalist
economy, “much” becomes prioritized value compared to “little”.
If you have decided to play a specific game certain characteristics
become exemplary. It is similarly with the capitalist market
economy. It rewards certain human characteristics, and ignores
other, which has an impact on the direction of what is produced
and thus on what is available for consumption in society. The
use value for people is subordinated the exchange value in the
economic system. GDP reflects the exchange value, which often
not correspond to something positive from a human perspective.
For instance, as mistrust is growing in society due to increasing
crime, the security industry expanding and become one of the
biggest and most profitable industries.
Those who act within the framework of an economic system
internalize the norms which the specific economic system’s
success criteria offer. It is this fact that underlies the modernization
process which the capitalist market economy has brought along
and the uniformity of good and evil runs over the capitalist
world today. The market economy works as a kind of framework
which, once established gives definite structure to the continuing
operations by creating a template for the human activity.
Norms are basic components of what we could call systems of
action. Through norms our and others’ behavior are synchronized
and coordinated and thus forming systems of actions. Norms can
be said to be system bound, i.e. formed by the system to which
they belong. The political system has its own norms, the economic
system like the social system has its norms and the natural, living
conditions provided by nature, is subject to its own adherence. Each
of these systems has specific conditions and ways of reproducing
norms. They play - in varying degrees in form of legislative
provisions - a role in the construction and reproduction of society.
The construction of society sometimes gives rise to norm conflicts There seems to be a link between inter-system conflicts which are
between systems and value conflicts, and between intra-system
conflicts within a system and conflicts of interest.
Inter-system conflicts require a value standpoint in relation to
incompatible components. This is particularly true when it comes
to intersystem conflicts. When one and the same societal activity
collide in human practice, conflicts between norms occur. This is
the case of wage labor. It is performed by workers and servants
of different kind. These can in the wage labor model legitimately
from an economic point of view be regarded as commodities which
the employer buys to a certain value. At the same time the worker
and servant are human beings with their own wishes and needs.
This generates social norms which are in contradiction with the
economic norms. This structural conflict is what constitutes the
conflict between capital and labor in the industrialized societies.
The conflict not only shows itself in the labor market. It has
also implications for the political system. The modern form of
democracy in liberal states is built on the role of balancing the
conflict or compensating the workers´ lack of economic power
with political ditto. In the short term perspective this gives rise
to compromises of different kinds in legislation. In the short term
perspective this gives rise to compromises of different kinds in
legislation. This is reflected in the whole of the labor law and labor
Thus, wage labor plays an important role as a principle for the
organization of work. With the principles of the organization of
work follow a deep impact on society-building, political groups and
economic systems. Wage labor is the socio-economic relationship
between a worker and an employer, where the worker sells their
labor under a formal or informal employment contract. These
transactions usually occur in a labor market where wages are
market determined . Sweden was in many ways a pioneering
country in the sphere of labor relations in the 1950s and 1960s.
“The Swedish model” (which can be defined in a number of ways)
did, however, change a lot during the late part of the 20th century´s
ideological stalemates and years of economic difficulties .
The Scandinavian countries play a key role in the European
social harmonization process. Within the social representation at
the European level, there is a sort of informal division of labor, with
Denmark serving as the point of reference in terms of employment
and Sweden as the model for consideration of different retirement
systems. European institutions have almost been infatuated with
the development of the Scandinavian model. Typical for Swedish
labour market until today, in short, is the following:
a) Approximately 80% of the labor force is a member of a
union. The employers are highly organized, too. This is a necessary
condition for the possibility to regulate through collective
b) The labor market is relatively homogenous.
c) The right to negotiate is very wide and stipulated
d) Unions with a collective bargaining agreement are
e) The collective agreement cannot be stretched to apply to
all, it is only binding to the agreeing parties and their members
(although they do have “normative effect” and are therefore
binding to and for employees who are not a member of a trade
f) The right to industrial conflict is very wide and strongly
centralized. The individual cannot decide by itself to go on strike.
That decision is reserved to the organisations.
g) The regulations are similar between the public and the
h) There are many regulations benefitting the workers and
servants, such as the right to employment protection, to vacation 5
weeks each year, to sick benefits, right to parental leave, etc.
i) There is even a right for the trade union representatives
to work with trade union activities during paid working hours.
j) There are very few special regulations for smaller
With Habermas we can conclude that whereas primitive
societies are integrated via a basic normative consensus, the
integration of developed societies comes about via the systemic
interconnection of functionally specified domains of action
(Habermas 1981: 115). The differentiation of a highly complex
market system destroys traditional forms of solidarity without
at the same time producing normative orientations capable of
securing an organic form of solidarity (Habermas, 1981: 116). In
the case of the life-world, the integration of a system is established
by a normatively secured or communicatively achieved consensus,
in relation to the systems, by a non-normative regulation of
individual decisions that extends beyond the actors’ consciousness.
This distinction between a social integration of society, which
takes effect in action orientations, and a systemic integration,
which reaches through and beyond action orientations, calls for a
corresponding differentiation in the concept of society itself.
The uncoupling of system integration and social integration
means at first only a differentiation between two types of action
coordination, one coming about through the consensus of those
involved, the other through functional interconnections of action
(Habermas, 1981: 186). Social-welfare law and the Welfare
state is tailored to domains of action that are first constituted in
legal forms of organization and that can be held together only
by systemic mechanisms. At the same time, however, socialwelfare
law and the welfare state apply to situations embedded in
informal lifeworld contexts (Habermas, 1981: 367). With the wage
labour model, we can see how the systems de-stabilize and hinder
system integration. This creates challenges for the social cohesion
of the welfare state. System and life-world come in conflict with
each other. However, as long as the systems delivers and provide individuals with material wealth, social cohesion seems to uphold
The conflict between technology and employment reveals the
built-in contradiction between wage labor as a form of production
and social order. Wage labor rationality of production is that it
reduces the need for human labor and thus wage labor will sooner
or later to abolish itself as a social order. This conflict cannot
simply be solved within the framework of wage labor society .
If one accepts the use of technology, wage labor disappears. If you
do not accept the use of technology loses wage labor the specific
productivity that forms the basis for its existence. Thus, we face
a dilemma that wage labor cannot indefinitely survive as a social
order without technological development, while at the same time
this technological development makes wage labor more and more
The development of ICT technology threatens more and more
the welfare state model, which has been the foundation for social
cohesion in the industrial society. This gives society a limited
scope of time. Society is like any other system initiated, expands,
becomes stabilized and dies before finally withering away to
become replaced by another societal model . This cyclical way
of looking at societal development occurs in many disciplines.
Some of the most influential work is related to Wallerstein ,
and his theory about World Systems. A strong proponent of this
perspective within economic theory is Kondratiev (1892-1938).
He spoke about cycles of about 60 years between boom and
depression. These business cycles are called Kondratiev waves.
According to Wilenius and Kurki (2012), a new wave is on its
way for the years 2010 - 20150, the 6th wave, which the authors
call a new wave of 40 years of global change . Within history,
the so called Annales School has used similar ideas of recurrent
events. Among other things they use the concept of “the history
of mentalities.” By mentality, they meant ideas which were not
necessarily conscious ones. They are shared within a collective
and they change slowly. Perhaps the most prominent member
of the Anneles school. Braudel , divided historical time into
different rhythms (la longue durée). This expression refers to the
analysis of trends as a study of continuities and discontinuities
where society was regarded as a totality of economic, social and
It seems as if the world opens up for each, new leap in
development, i.e. in the transition from one society system
to another, from one wave to the next3. In the transition from
the handicraft/agrarian society to the industrial society, the
differences between city and countryside were evened out. During
the handicraft/agrarian society, the city’s walls determined the
frame within which production and purchasing were allowed to
take place. After a while, the space became too constricted and via
a technological leap, the transformation of primary energy into
secondary energy sources, the gulf between city and countryside
widened, the city walls were torn down and the flow of trade was
set free. In return, the nation State emerged and, thereby, a larger
arena for production and trade. We are presently witnessing the
latest leap; the nation state weakens through the new information
technology, by which boundaries between countries cease being
barriers for the peoples´ and companies´ domiciles. The digital
technique gives rise to new economic ways which open up the
world. Today, this technological leap has made it possible for us
to tear down the remaining few walls which hinder humans from
interaction across national state boarders.
When the industrial society’s utility curve begins to descend,
the prerequisites for politics radically changes. From having been
concerned with distribution, the focus will gradually come to
rest with crisis management. The politics will acquire the task of
trying to conciliate criticisms emerging from people’s negative
expectations. Politics will shift from having been distinguished
as the art of possibilities to becoming the art of the insufficient.
In order to solve an impossible equation, politicians use law to
smoothen out social inequalities and calm tensions so that cracks
in the market economy – built on the idea of the invisible hand –
do not become visible. What happens in this transition?
This is when the legal form of intervention prevails .
Intervening legal rules become the hallmark of this phase of the
development of society. In this phase legislation on environmental
protection, consumer protection, employment protection, work
life protection, gender rights, etc. were introduced. The time of
dramatic change between an old and overly mature industrial
society and the current information society which we are presently
experiencing can, for the sake of simplicity, be described as a
transition society, what some scholars call a postmodern society4.
Within this society, contradictions appear between the old and
the new. Tensions arise between people who live with different
conceptions of the world depending on where they have mentally
Every system of society describes a type of wave, where the
society is born, grows up, matures, only to reach a culmination,
die out and finally decompose, leaving only a trace in peoples´
memories. The industrial society reached according to, Castells
its culmination in the developed world´s industrial countries, the
OECD countries, in the beginning of the 1970s.
Since then, productivity has continued to increase up until
recent time in which the financial crisis forebodes a recession,
but the benefit of the societal system has subsided long ago.
The industrial society can no longer grant us more benefits. It
is this circumstance which leads to financial crises and unstable
situations in the stock market. There are no sane alternatives.
Admittedly, the benefits are unevenly distributed, but the injustice
is structurally built and can only be solved if we abandon our
present system and find a new way to live, produce and distribute
goods and services. This development follows a logic which
applies to all systems. They reach a certain potential, at which
point they even become counterproductive. Monopolies - state and
private – which have grown strong during the large scale phase of
industrial society produce negative consumer value today instead
of providing us with constantly better products for lower prices.
The development for the better which takes place during these
circumstances is an effect of the giants, although everything is
beginning to be challenged by small and medium sized companies
which are driven by the aspiration to find new solutions, whilst the
established companies struggle to keep old solutions which give
them advantages. Another trend is globalization. Globalization
complicates the social cohesion process. Co-responsibility entails
that everyone should make a concerted contribution to shaping
the society in which we live and to which we aspire. It also involves
concepts of justice and social sustainability. That poses problems
when economic forces no longer buttress the national political
system and tend to weaken the state’s ability successfully to
manage inequalities. At the same time, neoliberal globalization
invalidates the national area and territorially defined interests.
It focuses instead on individuality, as a universal condition, and
gives the logics of the market and competition precedence over
all others, particularly the logics of solidarity, co-operation and
social justice. In these circumstances the question of what is best
for Europeans can no longer be posed without considering the
general good, which accordingly broadens the concept of welfare
and builds a bridge between territorial justice and universal
The rule of mercantile logic undermines the foundations of
social cohesion (or the European social model), destroying one of
its essential features – the guarantee of individual and collective
rights, for workers and citizens, and fora for consultation and
discussion of potential clashes between the logics of competition
and citizenship. To ensure that society is capable of guaranteeing
the welfare of all its members, social cohesion can, as has been
said, adapt and conform to new orders and situations. However,
reform of its underlying structures must take account of the
historical traditions and principles of citizenship that form the
basis of European nations’ cultural identity.
How can the collective capacity to ensure everyone’s wellbeing
be reinforced without a balanced forum for dialogue and
consultation founded on an essential political principle such as
democratic security? Security is necessary to the development
and renewal of social cohesion, to give everyone confidence in
the future and make people feel they have a role in shaping their
own future and that of coming generations. As the high social
and societal cost of job insecurity shows, this form of security
must be attainable first and foremost in the employment sphere.
However, security is not synonymous with rigidity and barriers to
job mobility. It is more a matter of social recognition of a right to
In the past 10 years, global trade in goods and services almost
doubled—reaching nearly $24 trillion in 2014, up from $13
trillion in 2005. The digital components of these flows have also
been increasing. By the end of 2015 the planet will have more than
7 billion mobile subscriptions and more than 3 billion Internet
users. Sweden and the rest of the industrialized world are in the
forefront for this development.
When we talk about technological development we refer
primarily to a transition from mechanics to electronics, from
analogue to digital technique, the use of nano-technology for
different kinds of inventions, etc. This development is not just a
technological development as such it lays as a core technological
shift the foundation of a new societal model. This development
changes the balance between states and companies.
The London based Campaign group, Global Justice Now, has
reported figures showing that 69 of the world’s 100 most powerful
economic entities are companies and not countries (News Voice,
2016). Of the world’s 200 top listed economic entities in the
world are 153 companies. USA, China, Germany, Japan, France
and the UK are the most financially successful, followed by Italy,
Brazil and Canada. This situation or trend gives rise to a scary
future5. The Neo-liberal political economy has accentuated great
benefits for the top 1% of the population with very little trickle
down of benefits for the vast majority of citizens in a worldwide
perspective. Power elite has never been stronger than today. The
top ten most successful companies in the world, which includes
Apple, Shell and Walmart, today has a combined profit that is greater than the combined revenues of 180 of the most “poor”
countries of the world total of 195 sovereign states. Neo-liberalism
stresses an absolutist notion of property and conspires to limit
distribution and participation.
It is not only the economic superiority which is a threat
for the sovereignty of the states and the ability for the welfare
state to operate as a moderator between economy and politics.
Technological development is also threat. The ability to collect,
process and cross huge amounts of data provides intermediation
platforms with a form of power that can challenge states´ sovereign
powers in many ways. An intermediation platform is for example
a search engine which intermediates between people producing
knowledge (web pages) and people seeking knowledge. The most
well-known platforms of today are some of the richest private
corporations in the World, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and
Apple. Other examples include Uber, which offers an Internetbased
service (app) for ordering and payment of taxi fares and
carpooling trips. Uber was formed in 2009 and 2014, according to
the New York Times is valued at SEK 15 billion.
These platforms have access to more data, more skills and
more resources than most nation-states and can use them to
perform some of the services that were once the prerogative
solely for the states. This is particularly striking in probably the
most sensitive sovereign domains: defense and security .
Intermediation platforms are now powerful political entities and
sometimes act like they are political powers that compete with
the governments . For example Microsoft is leading a major
battle against the US Department of Justice (referens) for access
to data stored in Ireland. The intermediation platforms could soon
outperform states in providing essential public services, especially
in a context of shrinking public budgets.
An illustrative example of how nation-states become
subordinated to big corporations is when the European
Commission in June 2014 open three in-depth investigations
to examine whether decisions by tax authorities in Ireland, The
Netherlands and Luxembourg with regard to the corporate
income tax to be paid by Apple, Starbucks and Fiat Finance and
Trade, respectively, comply with the EU rules on state aid. The
European Commission has concluded that Ireland granted undue
tax benefits of up to €13 billion to Apple. This is illegal under EU
state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less
tax than other businesses.
The EU claims that Ireland must now recover the illegal aid
by repaying the tax benefits. The role of EU state aid control
is to ensure Member States do not give selected companies a
better tax treatment than others, via tax rulings or otherwise.
More specifically, profits must be allocated between companies
in a corporate group, and between different parts of the same
company, in a way that reflects economic reality6.
Apple says that the Commission´s case is not about how much
Apple pays in taxes, it is about which government collects the
money. It will have a profound and harmful effect on investment
and job creation in Europe. Today we employ nearly 6,000 people
across Ireland, says Apple. The vast majority are still in Cork —
including some of the very first employees — now performing
a wide variety of functions as part of Apple’s global footprint.
Countless multinational companies followed Apple by investing
in Cork, and today the local economy is stronger than ever. Both
Apple and Ireland will appeal the decision by EU. The outcome
will indicate how far the transition has gone in the battle between
corporations and nation-states.
It is clear that the European Union recognizes the challenges
that it faces in terms of social cohesion (Council of Europe,
2005). It is thus necessary to expand on the issues raised in the
report and extending the issues, not least in light of the large
migrant inflows into the EU in recent years and the modern
technological developments. Social cohesion requires market
forces and administrative rules, and trends therein, to be subject
to democratic supervision. However, labor flexibility appears to
be a response to events beyond national control. The markets
are taking on spatial and temporal characteristics different
from those of the democratic process, and the administrative
authorities struggle to assume their role of guarantor of rights for
all (globalization). Even within our modern European societies,
social cohesion is still largely defined in relation to the national
area that delimits the dual sense of identity – that of the nation
and that of the citizen – on which it is based.
National welfare states are by their nature meant to be
closed systems . The logic of the welfare state implies the
existence of boundaries that distinguish those who are members
of a community from those who are not. Yet the welfare state is
necessarily at least partially open to its external environment.
International trade, the mobility of capital, and especially the
migration of labor continuously intrudes on and challenge the
endogenous nature of the welfare state. The development of the
welfare state may be seen as dialectical between the distributive
logic of closure-mutual aid undertaken by members of a
community according to socially defined conceptions of need-and
the distributive logic of openness-treatment according to one’s
performance in the marketplace without regard to membership
status or need.
The welfare state requires boundaries because it establishes a
principle of distributive justice that departs from the distributive
principles of the free market. The principle that-imperfectly
governs distribution in the welfare state is that of human need. It does not replace the market principle of distribution
according to economic performance, but it significantly alters it
by establishing a social minimum and broadening the sphere of
collective consumption, while it at the same time supports the
necessary circulation of goods in the capitalistic economy and
thereby nurtures the market from an economic perspective. The
introduction of the Welfare state model is thus not only a question
of political charity or distribution policy. It is also built on strong
The welfare state is an inward looking system. This is due in
large part to the community sharing social goods on the basis of
social ties, bonds values of kinship. The people who decide in the
sharing do so based on need. They have to understand feelings of
solidarity and closeness that come from collective membership
of fellow human communities7. However, the idea of membership
suggests that the presence of individual who are non- members
are left out of the sharing process. This is what is exploited by the
far-right political parties in Europe; Sweden for Swedes and the
like. The far-right Finnish party calls itself for the True Finns.
The fundamental political problem in a closed system is
determining membership. Being a member implies on is a citizen.
The claiming of welfare state benefits thus creates problems for
non-members or migrants. Leaving them out of the system is at
odds with ideas solidarity and kinship. However, these migrants
are not citizens or members of the system. Including them causes
friction and separates people into groupings of citizens and noncitizens.
Welfare states in order to survive thus encourage an
inflow of resources and seek to prevent their outflow. The welfare
state is thus an extension of forms of protectionist policies from
mercantilist era long gone .
These are not the only challenges of the inward looking focus
of welfare states. As they are found in a disordered, perilous, and
competitive world of limited means, they have to strive to draw
resources to come into their borders and fight to prevent their
loss. Government-provided social protection measures initially
appeared in countries that followed pure mercantilist ideology
and policies. The same thinking that was behind trade controls and
barriers protectionist tools set up to maintain and grow countries’
wealth push the measures to shield national populations from the
disturbances to their living standards driven by global business
cycles. With this in mind, the welfare state could be viewed as the
application of protectionism by other methods. The welfare State,
is thus a closed system. It looks to protect and cater for its own,
and its capacity to do that is based on its capacity to build a shelter
for its members to block out the outside world. Regrettably,
though the welfare state adopts boundedness, and needs it, it is in
fact thoroughly connected with the framework of the global sociopolitical
and economic system.
The very presence of disparities in benefits amongst member
states, inspires migration which in its persistence is a risk to the
welfare state. Short term migration is attractive to state policy
makers as it reduces the drainage on the nations’ budget. The
major partners of the state in altering a laissez-faire immigration
strategy into a temporary-worker system are local workers. In the
absence of legal hindrances on continued residence after losing
their employment, migrants would have strong reasons to stay in
the country even if they do not have jobs.
In a strict temporary-worker system, jobless benefits are
not a problem. Migrants who are retrenched will not have their
work permits renewed at expiry. They will have large motives
look for other jobs instead of claiming unemployment benefits. In
addition, these workers who have challenges getting jobs would
simply return to their home countries as they would be out of
work. The challenge with the temporary-worker system from the
perspective of host country is that it is inclined to break down.
Potential migrants dodge its regulatory methods and look for
employers who are prepared to help them.
Jobless migrants decide to stay in the expectation of finding
work in future or to enjoy the services granted to the unemployed.
Some migrants get proper paperwork and become citizens while
others stay continually without legal papers. As this short term
migration changes long-term stays, the longing to be rejoined with
one’s family becomes too much. Family immigration reduces the
differences between migrants and citizens, and tends to remove
the fiscal bonuses that short-term migration brings .
Borjas (1999) contends that welfare could impact immigration
via a few channels. Firstly, nations with more substantial welfare
benefits could draw immigrants who otherwise would have not
have been attracted. Secondly, the presence of social security
benefits may keep immigrants who would have otherwise gone
back to their country of origin. Thus the price of selecting one state
over another is minimal. This suggests that immigrants who get
welfare benefits are likely to choose, and consequently be grouped
in states which provide the greatest social benefits.
National welfare states are inherently inward looking by
design. The reasoning behind the welfare state requires that
restrictions be placed on those who are not members of the
community. In the 21st century, it is impossible to exist outside
of the globalized environment and all of the interconnectedness
this implies. Thus while the welfare state may be a closed system,
it cannot avoid trade ties and movement of capital and labour Boundaries are necessary for the welfare states’ existence and
they distribution is determined by human need. This however
does not supersede the market economy principle of distribution
on the basis of economic performance.
In order for the welfare state to operate optimally, it requires
community bonds and kinship ties and the sharing of social
goods. Sharing implies an implicit agreement to develop some
sort of communal bonds in the areas where individuals reside and
socialize. This is what is exploited by the far-right political parties
in Europe; Sweden for Swedes and the like. The far-right Finnish
party calls itself for the True Finns. The fundamental political
problem in a closed system is determining membership. Being
a member implies on is a citizen. The claiming of welfare state
benefits thus creates problems for non-members or migrants.
Leaving them out of the system is at odds with ideas solidarity and
kinship. However, these migrants are not citizens or members of
Welfare states, in order to survive thus encourage an inflow of
resources and seek to prevent their outflow. The welfare state is thus
an extension of forms of protectionist policies from mercantilist
era long gone . Studies of migration seem to primarily focus
on the effect of migration on the home countries. In relation to
receiving countries less are known. Political consequences are
however obvious. Migration is a feature of social and economic
life across many countries, but the profile of migrant populations
varies considerably. In part this is because of the variety of sources
of migration. In much of Europe, for example, citizens enjoy
extensive rights to free movement. In Australia, Canada and New
Zealand, managed labor migration plays an important role. Other
sources include family and humanitarian migration. Whatever
its source, migration has important impacts on our societies, and
these can be controversial. The economic impact of migration is
Germany held regional elections in three states in 2016 and
for political analysts, the major talking point was the success of
the far-right, anti-immigration party the Alternative for Germany,
known as the AfD. The results have been interpreted as a rebuke
of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pro-refugee stance, which has seen
over one million migrants enter Germany in a year´s time. Merkel’s
Christian Democrat party lost in two of the three states where the
elections were held. The AfD made significant gains in all three
states, particularly in Saxony-Anhalt where it finished second with
24% of the vote. But Germany is not alone. Far-right parties have
made significant gains in state and regional elections in Europe
since January 2015. The situation is the same for the Scandinavian
From liberal Scandinavia to the southern reaches of the
continent in Greece and Italy, far-right parties by their own
standards are showing sizeable growth in multiple nations
(Business Insider, UK, March 2016). In Denmark, long-standing
establishment parties are being squeezed by the emergence of a
populist movement fronted by the Danish People’s Party (DPP).
In the 2015 general election, the party recorded 21% of the vote
to become Denmark’s second-largest party. It was the DDP’s best
performance in its history.
If we take a look at Poland, the hard-right Law and Justice
party became the first party to govern alone since the restoration
of democracy when it swept to a resounding victory in October’s
parliamentary elections. The party has since implemented a law
allowing it to seize control of the state media broadcasters as well
as senior civil service directors. Then there’s Slovakia, where in
March’s election 23% of first-time voters backed the neo-Nazi
People’s Party Our Slovakia party (L’SNS). For a long time, the prefix
“far” denoted distance between parties aggressively-opposed to
immigration and the corridors of power. Now, those gaps are being
bridged and in a growing number of states right-wing parties are
realistic parties of office. Why is this happening? Public mood
across Europe is disgruntled right now and there are conditions
for populist groups to attract levels of support that years ago they
could only dream of. The mass movement of people from the wartorn
Middle East into Europe and the greatest refugee crisis since
the Second World War has become the single-most dominant
political issue across the continent. Traditional parties from the
left and right are facing great challenges. Increasing numbers of
people are sick of them and trust in politicians in many states is
low. It is within this climate of anger and disenchantment that farright
parties have been able to grow. This has also been manifested
in the Brexit outcome in UK and the Donald Trump election as US
So even if migrants according to a report from OECD Migration
Policy Debates, May 2014, contribute significantly to labor-market
flexibility, notably in Europe, they give rise to political instability.
Migrants accounted for 47% of the increase in the workforce in
the United States and 70% in Europe over the past ten years and
migrants can be said to fill important niches both in fast-growing
and declining sectors of the economy. But still, immigration is not
regarded as desirable. It does not help that according to the same
source, migrants contribute more in taxes and social contributions
than they receive in benefits and migrants arrive with skills and
contribute to human capital development of receiving countries.
Migrants also contribute to technological progress. Still there is a
huge resistance against migration among ordinary people.
These circumstances lead to a threat for social cohesion.
It has been met with different strategies from the state and the
political system . These strategies will probably not prevent
immigrants from making claims to move to Europe in the belief
that the Welfare state will stay forever. This becomes a vicious
circle, the more immigration, the more the Welfare state will
have problem to fulfil its function as a guarantee for individuals´
wellbeing. We have already seen a gradually cut in welfare and
social rights all over Europe [25,26].
It is impossible to avoid the consequences of understanding
the society without generating concerns for the anticipated
future of those social phenomena (Nagan 2016). Indeed, in order
to anticipate a projected public and legal order encounters the
prospect that description and analysis without a concern for
contingent futures misses the point of understanding society and
it´s anticipated future. Every form of society is holds the view that
it will last forever. The historical process of change is recognized in
principle in the past, but not for the future, not so far as concerns
its own form of society. The established structures of a particular
form of society cannot think of change as anything other than an
extension of themselves. The established structures of our form
of society are all, in one way or another linked to wage labor. This
applies to the state and organizations as well as the leading sciences
. Thus, in the dominant perspective the welfare state will be
forever. However, if we prolong the anticipated consequences
of the contradictions within the welfare state we have brought
forward, technological development and immigration, we can
anticipate a disruption.
Anticipation is a widespread phenomenon present in and
characterizing all types of systems, forcing a re-evaluation of
the very idea of science . The present interplay between
science and institutions is becoming a major impediment to a
further development of science . The traditional, bureaucratic
structure adopted by organizations and institutions (e.g.
governments) derives from an understanding of systems that
precedes the discovery of both complexity and anticipation.
Anticipation is not the same as prediction. It is something more
complex and sophisticated. Traditional structures work as if
problems could be addressed individually and in a piecemeal
way, with outputs systematically proportionate to relevant inputs,
and without any thorough exploration of possible futures8. The
discipline of anticipation is in its early stages of development. In
this regard, it is not different from any other discipline (or science
for that matter).
The discipline of anticipation is – as we understand it - built
on two prerequisites, prolongation of trends in society and
pattern recognition. The fruitfulness of the method relates to the
relevance of the identified tendencies in society. We have argued
for technological development in terms of a shift from analogue to
digital, from mechanics to electronics, as being one fundamental
trend in contemporary society worthwhile to analyze in the
perspective of long-term trends. The other trend has to do with
migration, which has turned out to be a growing phenomenon
in our time. When it comes to pattern recognition, we have been
able to connect the technological development to a trend of an
emerging new society, which is built on other preconditions than
the industrial society and the nation-state. How this new society
will look like is too early to say, even with the theory of anticipation.
Prolongation of tendencies helps us only to identify pathological
tendencies. A new society will in the cyclical development of
society, show itself as a reaction on the old one and can therefore
currently only be subject to a contra-factual discussion .
In the perspective of social cohesion, the welfare state model
is as we have seen threatened in two ways. One has to do with
technological development as such. That is when the new digital
technique creates business models which do not fit into the
classical mode of the industrial system of production characterized
by large scale industries composed by blue color workers and
white color servants organized in trade unions. These have played
an important role both within workplaces and as a political force
by being connected to the Social Democratic Party.
The decrease of wage labor work in relation to the
technological development has had its effect on the labor unions
. That part of the welfare state which has to do with the labor
law system and trade unions are more and more challenged. There
is an increasing misfit between an old regulation model belonging
to the industrial mode of production and a new model which is
more individualized and flexible. The technological development
is also a sign of development from one societal model to another,
from the industrial model to an ICT based model. This gives rise to
the other threat against the welfare state model.
For the purpose of this article we confine ourselves in relation
to anticipation, to the basic function to extrapolate relevant
tendencies in society. Even if one cannot predict what will happen
in the future, we can extrapolate from what we know about
today’s society to get a rough picture. If the tendencies belong
to contradictory systems within inter-system conflicts, there is
reason to believe that the extrapolating will anticipate a crash of
the system in case. Thus, both the technological development and
the migration flow exhibit dilemmas in the long term perspective,
i.e. a situation requiring a choice between equally impossible
alternatives. Wage labor cannot indefinitely survive as a social
order without technological development, while at the same time
this technological development makes wage labor more and more
superfluous. In relation to migration, the state is faced with the
dilemma of either keeping migration beyond own borders or
opening the borders completely and then seek alternative solutions
for the support of individuals’ wellbeing. Every compromise in
between will not be sustainable [30-36].
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