This policy brief argues that the traditional social contract has fragmented, unable to stand firm in the face of multiple centrifugal pressures. It suggests that labour markets now operate in the absence of an overarching institutional structure that satisfactorily balances employee demands for decent work with employer demands for organizational efficiency and flexibility.
Structural change and the search for greater labour market flexibility are identified as the two culprits for the disorganization of modern labour markets. The argument made here is that it is time to move beyond recriminations of labour market flexibility programmes so that more attention can be devoted to renewing the social contract for work in a manner that allows decentralized labour markets to operate in a socially responsible manner.
The failure of international trade law to liberalize labour stands in stark contradiction to the liberalization of other fundamental economic inputs, and undermines the vision for a globalized world.
The current UK government has invested heavily in labour market activation, both as an economic and social strategy. This has resulted in the phased introduction of significant changes to welfare provision, operating alongside other activation-based initiatives, including a high-profile skills agenda, a national childcare strategy, and ‘family-friendly’ employment policies to smooth the path to paid work for those with family responsibilities.
This policy brief argues that the pursuit of activation policies, particularly in the United Kingdom, is insufficiently attentive to issues of gender and to the closely related and complex nexus of gender, work, and care.
The brief takes as its focus the UK government’s welfare reform programme, concentrating on those aspects in which gender considerations are, or should be, of most significance. By so doing, it also seeks to contribute to the wider debate about the desirability and effectiveness of welfare-to-work policies.
Contemporary welfare states remain in need of powerful policies aimed at protecting against new social risks, inclusion through work, and more equality in education and the labour market. Clearly, in less stratified societies, such as in Scandinavia, there is less scope for Matthew effects and these social policies are likely to be more effective.
About a century ago in Britain, the opposing forces of capital and labour reached an accommodation in a legal framework that provided a structure within which collective bargaining between employers and unions could flourish.
An important lesson of history is that to create the conditions for change one must transform unfocused popular support for reform into the sharpened perception of an immediate source of emergency. This is a lesson that modern political managers are wont to forget.
In this report and series of policy briefs, leading political scientists and policymakers examine the role of personal responsibility in creating the conditions necessary to achieve equality of opportunity.
Should personal circumstance and behaviour be a determinant in the allocation of resources or should the welfare state be blind to all but individual need? Is the notion of contract a valid one when applied to welfare relationships, and how far should our conception of responsibility extend into the realms of education and health policy?
The new social contract aims to establish a society in which individuals can live meaningful lives. While the state enjoys the outcome of citizens’ responsible acts it has a duty to create the necessary conditions for such actions, and in so doing to close social and economic gaps between families and individuals alike.
Jobseekers Agreements are just one type of behaviour management contract. Other contemporary examples include home-school agreements, youth offender contracts, and parenting contracts.
Sometimes people's misfortunes are the consequence of chance, bad luck pure and simple. Other times they are the natural consequence of choices those people have freely made. A popular position, both in political philosophy and popular political discourse, says that people should be responsible for their own welfare.