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Social Quality and Precarity: Approaching New Patterns of Societal (Dis)Integration

Herrmann, Peter and van der Maesen, Laurent J.G. (2008): Social Quality and Precarity: Approaching New Patterns of Societal (Dis)Integration.

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Abstract

The main issue of this article is to discuss the question of ‘precarity’ in the context of the theory of social quality (see Beck et al, 2001), with which to pave the way for developing further the theoretical foundation of precarity. Societal practice is the main challenge this concept tries to address. However, the danger is to introduce a new term, yet maintaining a discussion on traditional problems as poverty, marginalisation and exclusion. Our thesis is that these problems, far from being sufficiently tackled, are currently going along with and being adjunct to another challenge, namely precarity. Although the ‘old problems’ are not problems of individuals and expression of their ‘personal failure’, precarity – seen in the context of the theory of social quality – means a new stage of socialisation of the problems by further individualisation of the victims. In principle, we can say that this understanding of precarity is an expression of a further erosion of society, characterising especially periods of transformation of economic systems.

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