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Public Lecture - Europe's Crisis: Market Competition Instead of Social Bonds

  • Speaker: Professor James Wickham, Professor of Sociology and Head of the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy

  • Date: Tuesday April 17 from 6.30 - 7.45pm

  • Venue:Emmet Theatre, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin

James Wickham delivered a public lecture titled "Europe's Crisis: market competition instead of social bonds". This lecture is one of a series of talks, by academics in Trinity's School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, addressing the theme of The Debt Crisis: Causes, Consequences, Controls.

The lecture was chaired by Liam Berney, Industrial Officer – Public Sector at Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).


Presentation Overview

Europe’s current fiscal crisis can only be solved by mutual support and solidarity between Europeans.  Yet far from the “ever closer union”  promised in the founding documents of the EU, the crisis is driving Europeans apart.  For ordinary Europeans, “Europe” is part of the problem, not part of the solution.  The reason lies in the tension between creating a single market (so called “negative integration”) and creating a shared society (“positive integration”).    In the last ten to fifteen years the EU has been largely about the former, and has done very little about the latter.   Increasingly the EU is seen to threaten national states (above all national welfare states) in the name of competition, but to offer no new protection in return.  Consequently the social basis for the European project is increasingly eroded.   It becomes more and more restricted to those relatively privileged social groups which benefit directly from European integration.  As EU decision-making becomes increasingly bargaining between member states, Europeans judge solutions in purely national terms.  If the European Social Model once defined Europe, Europe’s distinctiveness is now being undermined by European leaders themselves.

Speaker Biography

James Wickham is Professor of Sociology at Trinity College Dublin where he directs the Employment Research Centre, chairs the Policy Institute and is Head of the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy.  His current research focuses on employment and different forms of mobility, from migration to business air travel.  He has recently completed a research project on ‘Migrant Careers and Aspirations’ focusing on Polish migrants in Dublin.  He is the author of Gridlock: Dublin’s Transport Crisis and the Future of the City.

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Last updated 13 June 2014 .