SP 7: Europeanization of social inequalities

Sub-project 7 of the research group "Horizontal Europeanization. Europe as an emerging social entity between the national and global sphere" analyses empirical patterns of social inequality in Europe, since cross-border determinants and transnational perceptions of social inequality are becoming increasingly important in the process of European integration. On the basis of European micro data (in particular EU-SILC, LFS), the structure of income inequality, poverty and deprivation as well as unequal opportunities of participating in the labour market and in health care are analysed. In this way, we take into account the multidimensional nature of social inequalities in Europe. These patterns and their development are explained by socio-demographic characteristics and national contextual factors, unearthed in particular through multilevel analyses. In the project, we assume Europe to be first of all a supranational space, secondly a politically managed space, and thirdly a space for the transnational intensification of social relations. A key result of the project has been the "double dualization" of the European territory, as the inequality of objective living conditions has increased since the beginning of the current financial, sovereign debt and economic crisis, both between different social groups and between regions of Europe (Continental und Northern European countries on the one hand, Southern and Eastern European countries on the other hand).

In the second project phase, these analyses will be continued and enlarged (e.g. by analysing access to educational opportunities). Furthermore, the project will advance the analysis of social inequalities in three different directions: First, on the basis of the additional module 2013 of EU­ SILC, the subjective dimensions of social inequality in Europe will be analysed in relationship to the previously analysed indicators of the objective living conditions of Europeans. A possible result might be the Europeanization of reference frames for the evaluation of social inequalities. Second, we will exploit the limited opportunities for a longitudinal analysis offered by EU-SILC in order to discuss the dynamics of poverty and exclusion. Third, multiple correspondence analyses will be used as a technique for the visual representation of the European social space and its inherent social differences and cleavages.

First project phase

Europeanization of Social Inequalities

Social inequalities can no longer be understood solely in the context of nation-states. Therefore, one of the central challenges of the sociology of Europe is to consider how social inequalities are produced and regulated in a multi-level system between regions, nations and transnational institutions as the European Union. Based on European sets of micro data (in particular EU-SILC, LFS) the project firstly tries to describe the structure of income inequality, and secondly, the unequal endowment of material goods and the unequal participation opportunities in the areas of employment, housing, education, health care and social participation, to take into account the multidimensional nature of social stratification. Thirdly, the observed inequality patterns are explained, in relation to regional population, economic and labor market structure, national institutions as well as market opening processes and regulatory policies within the European Union. By following these steps we can observe, whether the largely secluded national "inequality spaces" are opened up by supranational integration processes and sub-processes of differentiation. Even though nation-state policies and institutions are still significantly influential on the social situation of the population, these processes could be interpreted as evidence of a Europeanization of social inequalities.

Research Brief