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Social policy making in the EU: contending paradigms and alternative approaches

Günel, Selen
This thesis analyzes the evolution of European social policy via focusing on the unfolding contentions between two different notions that disagree over Europe’s direction regarding the best social-economic system in Europe. Taking its point of departure in the ratification crisis and the impasse surrounding the Constitutional Treaty, the thesis argues that the contrasting interpretations of the Treaty and the attendant cleavages in the European polity are illustrations of such ongoing ideological struggles among alternative paradigms and approaches. Naming these contending approaches as “project of neoliberalism” and “project of regulated capitalism”, the evolution of European social policy is investigated with a focus on interplays between these projects; the self-transformation of the projects in the course of integration; and the relations between economic and social governance in the construction of an “ever closer Union”. To this purpose, the thesis theoretically employs Polanyian conceptual framework of “double movement” alongside theoretical approaches of Streeck, Hooghe&Marks, and Pochet that view the evolution of European social policy in conflictual encounters between two opposing notions. Against this theoretical background, the thesis surveys the integration history from the Treaty of Rome until the Lisbon Treaty of 2007. It concludes that the European social policy has evolved within interplays among projects of neoliberalism and regulated capitalism and there has always been an asymmetric relationship between the economic and social governance in Europe as the social governance has always had a secondary and even a subservient position with regard to economic governance in the European polity.