Social models? : a critical view on a concept from a historical and European perspective
Title: Social models? : a critical view on a concept from a historical and European perspective
Author: STRATH, Bo
Citation: European Review, 2007, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 335-352
The article argues that the question of this Focus about national models versus local aspirations must be supplemented with the question of a European dimension. The question is whether a European social model is conceivable in parallel to or beyond the local, the regional and the national models. The article argues that the question of prosperity in Europe must have a reasonable dimension of political redistribution of the fruits of economic growth. The concept of prosperity does not only have a bearing on the economic but also on the social. The article critically discusses the concepts of model and path dependency. Model is seen as a stereotype emerging in the dynamics between reflection on Self and imagination of the Other. Path dependencies are seen as trajectories laid out towards the past for a better understanding of the present, as ex post mental constructions, but they have no or little prognostic value. The argument is for a soft version of path dependency as a heuristic tool as opposed to hard versions with an ambition of prediction. The problem with the concept as such is that it is inscribed in a long tradition of ideals of predictability in social sciences based on a structural instead of a constructivist view of history and society.
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