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Social Cohesion between the Member States of the European Union: Past Developments and Prospects for an Enlarged Union

[journal article]

Berger-Schmitt, Regina

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Abstract The economic & social cohesion of Europe constitutes a main policy goal of the European Union. In this article a broad concept of social cohesion is proposed, which covers two principal dimensions: in addition to disparities in living conditions, which can be called the inequality dimension of social cohesion, social ties between countries are another important aspect, designated in brief as the social capital dimension. For both dimensions empirical analyses of selected indicators are presented. They address the question of whether the social cohesion among EU member states increased during the past 15 years. Furthermore, the prospects for social cohesion within an enlarged EU are dealt with by analyzing potential consequences that the accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary, & Poland implies for social cohesion. The analyses reveal that social cohesion within the European Union did not really become stronger during the past 15 years. The entry of the three candidate countries would probably weaken social cohesion even further, especially owing to the limited public approval of their accession in many Member States. Social cohesion could be strengthened by greater solidarity between the prosperous & the 'backward' countries. The main prerequisites for this - mutual understanding, trustful relations, & a sense of community - may be enhanced by intensifying communication & interaction among countries.
Classification Macrosociology, Analysis of Whole Societies
Free Keywords European Union; Social Cohesion; Eastern Europe; Foreign Policy; International Relations; East and West; Hungary; Poland; Czech Republic
Document language English
Publication Year 2002
Page/Pages p. 721-748
Journal Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review, 38 (2002) 6
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
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