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Title: Globalizacja, sprawiedliwość społeczna, efektywność ekonomiczna: francuskie dylematy
Authors: Pyka, Robert
Keywords: Globalization; Social justice; Economic effectiveness; Welfare state; French society; Egalitarism; Welfare state; Neo-liberalism; Capitalism; Social policy; Social privileges; State reform; International competitiveness; Knowledge society; Social debate; Demonstrations; Strikes
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Abstract: Modern reality, defined by global phenomena, constitutes a totally different context for societies aiming at reconciling certain principles of social justice with the requirements of economy effectiveness and competitiveness. A compromise on the level of justice-effectiveness is becoming more and more difficult nowadays because what dominates on a global scale is a paradigm connected with an aspiration to maximize the benefit often at the expense of human well-being. Thus, socially-oriented countries are in retreat in spite of the fact that this type of a capitalistic economy was long after the World War II regarded the greatest achievement of the western civilization reaching the axiological loads of democracy as well as the principles of equality and justice. It seemed at that time that an uncontrollable market is an anachronism originating from the times preceding the Great Depression whereas “an invisible market hand” constitutes a myth of the pioneers of capitalism. In the meantime, changes which took place at the end of the 20th century started to rechange our attitude to the issue of equality and social justice at the same time. Thus, the particular countries of Western Europe make an attempt to again find themselves in a changing reality, searching for new ways of coming to terms with ever-lasting dilemmas, including justice and effectiveness. The results of these searches are diversified, and raise a lot of controversies among the observers. The country that pays special attention in this context is France. The society of this country, strongly attached to egalitarism having its origins in the emblematic slogans of the French Revolution, was put to a serious test, consisting in the confrontation of this social model with an imperative of effectiveness imposed on by a globalised economy. Observing the situation of the contemporary French society, debates it conducts and tensions tearing it, one can have an impression that the society is still looking for an answer to the reality of a globalised world. It is extremely difficult because its axiological skeleton seems to be, in its assumptions, totally different from what constitutes motoric powers of a global post-capitalistic society. The fundamental question one can pose in this context concerns the possibility of reconciling social justice and economic effectiveness nowadays. Which modifications should these two notions undergo so that they would become the elements of a common positive equation also under the present circumstances? Are the countries socially- oriented doomed to slow and irretrievable erosion? What future is predicted to what we define as a social European model reflecting an attitude to human existence of a European continent whose level guaranteeing the maintenance of human dignity was undertaken by a purely economic equation? Attempts to find the answer to the afore-mentioned were taken on the basis of the research conducted in the context of a French society which seems to be a lens containing the issues in question. Due to the openness of borders, a free flow of capital and development of international competitiveness, France was forced to start a rivalry with the economies of the countries far from propagating the same social values, otherwise lofty, but, at the same time, increasing the costs of work and economy. The situation of France was additionally becoming worse because of negative demographic tendencies connected with the aging society or growing unemployment caused by, among other things, a general fall of the pace of economic growth being the consequence of international competitiveness and what one refers to as a transition from the industrial society to that of knowledge and information. The phenomena in question caused the fall of the effectiveness of the French welfare state which, because of its Bismarck nature and finance support on work insurances, started to generate serious deficits, which led to the fall of social satisfaction and sense of safety in connection with the market erosion of the French socially-oriented country. In the meantime, all social reforms in France take place in a very slow manner, which is, above all, connected with an equally slow mental evolution of the French society within the scope of social inequalities, the role of the country, the myth of uniqueness of France or the awareness in terms of the actual condition of the French welfare state, and the need to reform it. It seems almost certain that, using the notions of justice and effectiveness nowadays, defined at the time of an industrial society, the relationship between them shows their mutual exclusiveness. A traditional perspective of effectiveness, though, assumes a very narrow approach to the effects of a given action evaluated from the point of view of a material capitalism which, as a result of this undertaking, was created with the use of the smallest loads and in the possibly shortest time. Likewise, a traditional perspective of justice which can be referred to the egalitaristic approach emphasizing the actual equality in the society, evaluated from the perspective of the results obtained by individual actors, seems not to be reconciled with the reality of the society at the beginning of the 21st century. It is so because the contemporary societies of highly-developed countries, in the majority of examples, no longer belong to the reality of the industrial era, but constitute postmodern societies basing their functioning and development on information, knowledge and competences, i.e. the capital unmaterial in character. Man, being their fundamental carrier, via his/her creativity and ability to make innovations, has a a central position in the social organism. At the same time, investment into the human capital takes on a totally new meaning, becoming a condition sine qua non of the economic development. The proper perspective of effectiveness, which, due to its qualities, inscribes into the postcapitalistic society which could additionally generate the phenomenon of synergy in a correlation with a new perspective of justice, assumes, above all, withdrawal from an exclusively short-term approach to reality, based on the perception of only the evaluation of a non-material richness, having its origin in the human mind, as a result of which investment in man will gain its justification on the economic market, becoming the best deposit of capital, not just an exclusive domain of the social policy of the country most frequently associated with the costs hindering the development of an enterprise. Effectiveness understood in such a way will promote a new perspective of the social justice paying attention not to the actual equality, but the possibility of functioning and achievement at the same time which concerns the supply of proper tools in the form of education and other elements of the cultural capital crucial to the functioning in the globalised society of knowledge to all who expect it. Effectiveness and justice understood in such a way become the elements of the same equation, the result of which is the development of the society of knowledge on both, the level of its members and their life path, and the level of its economic effects. As it is impossible to reconcile justice and effectiveness with the use of their traditional understanding, and it needs to be redefined in a proper way, it is the socially- oriented country, constituting a practical realization of a positive coexistence of justice and effectiveness, that needs proper corrections allowing for its adaptation to new conditions and movement to the future. The book under investigation presents a catalogue of changes which should take place in the socially-oriented countries so that they could preserve their existence. However, it is certain that when preserving the form of a welfare state, created after the World War II at the time of an industrial society, the very country is currently doomed to a slow erosion and final collapse. The situation of the French Etat-providence is a perfect illustration of these phenomena as almost all problems of a welfare state as well as those resulting from a specific form of a French socially-oriented country and features typical of a French society concentrating in it. The problem of coexistence of economic justice and effectiveness in the context of welfare state future is a part of the contemporary socio-axiological European dilemmas the European societies of a global era must face. It refers to the persistence of a European model of a collective life in which man used to play a fundamental role, leaving no place for competitiveness and effectiveness. Would it be possible to be still like that? It is the question that cannot be answered explicitly these days. The book brings only a partial answer to it. Owing to the analyses of changes happening so hard in the French society, characterized by huge innertia and attachment to what is defined as a social European model, one can conclude that the remaining European societies, will also (or even more easily) successfully deal with these challenges. The years to come will verify the above-stated theses, certainly giving the sociologists an interesting material to further studies.
ISBN: 978-83-226-1781-6
Appears in Collections:Książki/rozdziały (WNS)

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