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Abstract

The European continent faces an apocalyptic pandemic that poses mortal danger to millions of citizens. This paper seeks to address the role played by European public policy in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, each Member State across Europe is applying its own measures to deal with the coronavirus; namely, decentralised decision-making that could trigger political tensions among the states. The paper argues that European public policy must change rapidly and fundamentally if these tensions are to be successfully managed; otherwise, such policy might simply cease to exist. Moreover, the known and notorious problem of collective action, information asymmetries, irrationality, negative externalities and the related free-riding phenomenon persistently are distorting the Member States’ combined efforts, resulting in deficient attempts to contain the spread of Covid-19. The paper also argues that the current unprecedented outbreak of this superspreading virus calls for a bigger EU-wide coordinated response. We argue that the Covid-19 pandemic is a good example of an area in which the central EU level holds a comparative advantage over lower levels of government. In addition, the paper offers several substantive insights into ways to improve the public policy response in the ‘war’ against Covid-19.

Abstract

The active ageing policy supports several types of activities, including labour force participation, caregiving, social participation, and physical activity. The paper illustrates the prevalence of supported activities across individual characteristics and four supra-national European regions to assess how these activities are available for specific groups of older people. The analysis draws on wave 6 from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe held in 2015. A set of figures describes the availability of activities sorted by gender, age, health status, and the level of education in 17 European countries divided into four regions, and thus, presents the unavailable descriptive data important for researchers and policymakers. The results most of all show that the majority of the 50+ population engages in vigorous physical activity, whilst labour force participation and caregiving concern about one-third of it, and other activities much less. The findings show the inadequacy of the active ageing as a uniform context-insensitive EU policy and detect its potential for raising inequalities in later life, whilst the theoretical implications are discussed.

Abstract

A democratic government should adhere to firm public administration principles, legal instruments, structures and mechanisms. However, providing these elements is insufficient to guarantee integrated participative service delivery. This article aims to unravel the most important elements required to create a participative governance model that fuses horizontal intra-relationships between public officials and departments and vertical interactions between public and private networks. The research methodology entailed a critical desktop document analysis of books, articles, regulatory policy and strategy documents. Network governance was conceptually and contextually analysed through unobtrusive research methods. It served as a possible analytical model for democratic governance, where citizens take centre stage in participative decision-making. The findings provide both a description and a contextualisation of the themes that emerged from the research. The article highlights that the network governance model could help South Africa move forward from a dated, elitist democracy based on a dependency model, to a participative democracy model, where communities and government work together. The article concludes that South Africa can only realise the National Development Plans (NDPs) 2030 goals (to maximise people's development, strengthen governance networks and enhance state's capacity to provide adequate public services) by drawing on partnerships within a network governance framework.

Abstract

By exploring the professional trajectory of sociologist Gheorghe (George) Retegan (1916–1998), this article addresses the epistemological and personal reconfigurations of the field of social sciences in post-war Romania, highlighting the complex relations and professional rivalries in the field after the Second World War, and their consequences for social knowledge. My study explores Retegan’s published and unpublished works, archival documents, and an interview that Z. Rostás conducted with Retegan in the 1990s. I analyse three research ventures relevant for understanding Retegan’s professional trajectory and methodological choices: the 1948–1950 family budget research that Retegan coordinated at the Central Institute for Statistics; the 1957–1959 monographic research he coordinated at the Institute for Economic Research; and his “farewell” to sociology and specialization in demography beginning in the 1960s. My article documents Retegan’s remarkable capacity to develop research by way of formulating new questions, methodologies, and techniques, on the basis of the main elements of empirical research he learned during his training in sociology under the supervision of Anton Golopenția. Retegan’s contributions to the field of empirical social research suggest how a context that was generally unfavourable for the development of social sciences (1948–1965) could be used in a creative way for the study of the social world. Epistemologically, the survival and even innovation of empirical research under unfavourable ideological and political conditions made possible the rehabilitation of sociology as a discipline in the much more favourable context of the second half of the 1960s.

Abstract

The environment is no longer a backdrop, but an agent pressing us to restructure our economic and political systems, down to our livelihoods. This research aims to make a critical overview of the Sustainable Development (SD) model. It looks at how market fundamentalism and anthropocentrism are driving forces in the shaping of its proposed form of education: education for sustainable development (ESD). This “new” educational paradigm aims to support the SD strategies that are globally implemented and “localized” at the nation-state level. The current SD model and the Agenda 2030 operate within a specific framework of the nature/culture divide, one that reiterates human domination. As such, this research aims to analyse the educational values within the idea of sustainable development – one that wishes to “reorient” society but instead ends up emphasizing it in its anthropocentric form. It does so by close reading and analysis of the UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development and Romania’s National Strategies for Sustainable Development, 2008 and 2018. Concluding, it might very well be the case that restructuring schooling – and governing - to bring it up to the realities of climate change requires rethinking our fundamental educational values and the nature/culture divide, as well as making nation-states less servient of markets and less growth-oriented.

Abstract

By now a preferred EU instrument aimed at stirring rural development, LEADER initially constituted an alleged departure from the top-down productivist agenda of the CAP towards locally-led development. The exogenous-endogenous explanatory model legitimized the adoption of economistic assumptions into EU rural development policy. As the CAP policy genealogy conveys, agricultural policies occurred at the intersection of internal and external factors, whereas the endogenous framework evicts structural explanations for territorial marginalization. A case study from North-western Romania provides details on the implementation of the endogenous agenda from the perspective of public actors. Rather than inducing an alleged alternative development model, LEADER acts as adjuvant to other policies and, overall, as a pedagogical exercise in uneven development.

Abstract

The paper follows the institutionalization of meritocracy in the Romanian higher education. Using the Romanian experience, the study explores the setting of meritocracy, highlights the revised institutional genesis that led to the adoption of a so-called post-traditional approach, and it reviews the deployment of practices that steered higher education in Romania. In support to these, a reflective stance is employed alongside secondary sources to scrutinize the techniques of control and practices which inform institutional evolution. The research attempts to shed light on the increase of doctrinal entrenchment through which meritocracy justifies academic stratification in a pauper system aspiring to world-class recognition.

Abstract

Gathering social media content and analysing the heavy and unstructured text coming from posts, comments and reactions can come as a powerful tool in understanding how people react to the information they receive. In this article we present the results from a social media analysis of 10771 headlines, with their subsequent text bodies and comments posted in a subreddit destined for Romanians during the state of emergency declared in Romania, from March 16 to May 15, 2020. Our objective was to model the main topics debated by this targeted population of people that tend to use Reddit to discuss current issues and to identify the sentiment polarity towards these topics. As expected, Romanians are mostly concerned with their social condition in the context of the pandemic caused by CoVID-19, as our research has revealed a word frequency for the term “Coronavirus” prominently higher than any other preferred term. However, the analysis brings up a surprising turnaround as the overall sentiment of the text posted in this dataset is predominantly neutral with a higher frequency of positive posts compared to the negative ones. This was unforeseen by our initial expectations: a natural tendency to more negative posts than positive considering the context of the chosen study period. Moreover, when compared to the time series of the CoVID-19 infections and caused deaths in Romania, spikes of extremely high or low mean sentiment scores per day can be correlated to the fluctuations of the declared cases. Not only does this bring us closer to understanding the social impact of CoVID-19 in the current context, but the outcome of this analysis can be easily extrapolated for further investigations upon other social networking tools or for more in-depth analysis on our studied corpus.

Abstract

The article addresses the need to identify and quantify the external costs of air pollution on the health of the population, especially children. The subjects of evaluation are the respiratory illnesses acute nasopharyngitis and acute bronchitis, both of which have very high incidence in connection with air pollution. The aim of this paper is to estimate the cost of morbidity and to determine the amount of additional social costs of airway morbidity among children aged 0–15 years in Ostrava city, one of the most polluted cities in Europe, compared to the incidence of these diseases in the whole Czech Republic. Estimation of social costs is based on the Cost-Of-Illness approach, in which the total value is made up of the costs actually incurred in treating illness and in loss of productivity. Using this approach, additional costs related to the treatment of illnesses were calculated at approximately €20 million per year, which represents approximately 0.4% of Ostrava's regional gross domestic product (GDP).

Abstract

The paper focuses on the main features of corporate volunteering in companies from the Sverdlovsk region (Russian Federation), with a population surpassing 4.5 million inhabitants. Corporate volunteering is analyzed in the context of the trend characteristic for the post-Soviet space. The article systematizes approaches to the definition and study of this phenomenon, implemented by researchers from different countries. The main goal of the article is to identify the specific features of corporate volunteering in a large Russian region, considered typical for industrial territories in post-Soviet areas, seen through the social value that local communities attribute to corporate volunteering. The paper is based on the results of a public opinion poll and structured interviews, carried out in the Sverdlovsk region, where there is a concentration of enterprises of “hard” industries. The responses obtained in the poll were further subjected to analysis using statistical methods. The data are supplemented with information collected through the qualitative interviews. Interviewed experts are the top managers of enterprises and the deputy directors for HR, GR, or social issues. The study shows that in Russian industrial cities, where large enterprises are the main employers for most residents, many questions on the implementation of social policy fall under the responsibility of these enterprises, and not of the local government. Researchers argue that corporate volunteering is not widespread in the large Russian regions. It most often develops within the framework of event planning and environmental projects, managed by enterprises in cooperation with social and cultural institutions of local communities and not with the non-profit sector. The traditions of the organization of mass social work formed during the socialist period are still deeply rooted in enterprises, and managers rarely identify volunteering as a new managerial tool, thus being untangled from the global trend of promoting corporate volunteerism as a means of building corporate culture.