Category Archives: Book

European knowledge society, new social risks and universities

Authors: de Gier, Erik & Warmerdam, J.
Year: 2009
Abstract: This book integrates the various country reports about (1) the discourse of the Globalised Knowledge-based Society in six EU countries Austria, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain; (2) the perception of (new) social risks in these countries; and (3) the role and functions of universities. The six country reports were elaborated in the course of the project NESOR – New Social Risk in the European knowledge society and higher education. The European Union cofounded this project through the Socrates programme.
Although in advance a common format of the country reports was agreed, the final output of reports proved to be rather diverse. To some extent this is caused by the fact that each country finds itself in a different developmental stage and speed on the road to the Globalised Knowledge-Based Society and also by the fact that actual discourses and policies are deeply embedded in national cultures. So, this trans-national report will not be a true and tough comparative exercise in the strict methodological sense of the word. What it does offer is an in-depth insight into national debates and policies and above that, also some common felt problems with respect to the Globalised Knowledge-Based Society. What you can expect in the remaining part of this report is not first of all a more or less descriptive summary of the various national reports, but an attempt to develop a sort of coherent transnational perspective of what means Globalised Knowledge-Based Society.

Role and Profile of higher education institutes – Comparative Report


Authors: Baumgartl, Bernd & Mariani, Michele

Resume: This report is the transnational synthesis of national findings and interviews under the question about the role and profile of Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) in the European knowledge society. As such, the document has been written mainly basing on research evidences collected in previous national reports elaborated in the course of the project NESOR (New Social Risk in the European knowledge society and higher education). The European Union co-funded this project through the Socrates programme.
The collection of documental and literature reviews, qualitative studies and semi-structured interviews with national stakeholders has made it possible to accumulate a unique knowledge base which provides a rich picture on the state-of-the art of the implementation of the Bologna Process and looks forward to the contemporary and future role of EU higher education institutions, especially with respect to ensuring social inclusion and sustainable economical development.
According to the applied guidelines, the themes of this report have been clustered in three sections:

  1. i) Higher Education and the European Knowledge Society;
  2. ii) Higher Education and the new social risks;

iii) Higher Education: European dimension and internationalization.

All sections discuss the present stage of implementation, effects and future prospects of recent EU HE reform (i.e. the Bologna Process) in six countries: Austria, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and The Netherlands. Each section is structured in three levels:

  1. i) awareness (what has been implemented);
  2. ii) experience (results that have been achieved);

iii) strategies (what has been learnt and how to go ahead).

A first draft of this report was reviewed and commented by a panel of experts external to the project. Their valuable comments and revisions, which provide significant added value to this report, have been taken into account to release the present, final version.
According to the rich evidence accumulated throughout the national studies, after a few years from its launching the contribution of the Bologna Process to the making of a European knowledge society/economy resulted in mixed achievements. The reform has produced different impacts on the different national educational systems, along with different economical and social consequences, and it is hard to say which Country’s experience could be considered as ‘the best practice’ to be extended to all EU HEIs.
Furthermore, the transition towards the European Knowledge Society is proceeding at quite a different pace among the participant countries (as it can be seen in the Global Competitiveness Index), partly in response to the diverse degrees in which knowledge-based activities are present in the different economies and partly because the importance of knowledge as a long-run growth factor is differently acknowledged by Member States. The very same assumption behind the Lisbon strategy, i.e., that the rapid creation of knowledge and easy access to it enhances counties’ efficiency, quality, and equity, is still under debate. While it may be plausible end even probable for certain types of activity and even certain national systems as a whole, it seems to be more uncertain and even unrealistic in many other cases.
The sudden change in the labour demand has led to an upgrading of jobs which sometimes has been found to deepen inequalities, both with respect to the least skilled workers and with respect to the high-skilled ones. All this creates new social risks and calls for an active response also by Higher Education Institutions. To face contemporary challenges, contribute to social cohesion and sustainable economical development, EU higher education institutions must further engage in local and global reflections, being active agents in the creation of the future society. Curricular adaptations, lifelong learning, assistance in the transition from education to learning, provision of equal opportunities for all, are all relevant and challenging tasks which definitely are part of the contemporary role of EU Universities.

Long-Term Care Services in 4 European Countries. Labour Markets and other aspects


Author: Karsten Krüger & Erik de Gier (Eds.)
Year: 2011
One of the European Union’s major concerns is its ageing population, and the need to develop a social and economic strategy able to meet this demographic challenge. One of the key issues is the care for elderly and dependent people. This question goes to the core of the European Social Protection system. But it is difficult to define exactly what care and care services for dependent people means. Traditionally a distinction has been made between health care and social care. For several reasons, these boundaries are blurred and a more integrated perspective comes up advocating the concept of long-term care, defined by the OECD as “the organisation and delivery of a broad range of services and assistance to people who are limited in their ability to function independently on a daily basis over an extended period of time”.
Long-term care systems are characterised by the diversity of the providers, of the institutional and organisational settings, and of the sources of funding. With regard to social care, the EUROFOUND made a rough distinction between waged carers and non-waged carers.
Only this distinction indicates yet that long-term care systems have complex configurations, combining different types of formal care with a wide range of informal care.
The long-term care systems of the EU-member states are under pressure from four quarters:
a) The improvement in the health of European populations has increased life expectancy. The over 65-year and the over-85 age groups have grown considerably in recent decades and will continue to do so in the future. Inevitably, this raised and will raise the demand for care for older people.
b) The family structure has changed all over Europe, towards a model characterised by smaller double breadwinner families. And as female members have traditionally taken responsibility for family care, the growing incorporation of women in the labour market increases the demand for formal carers.
c) The EU population in working age is decreasing, thus raising competition for labour between different economic sectors. This can be mitigated, but not resolved, by immigration. But low paid work and low labour status combined with high responsibilities make the care work not very attractive.
d) The retrenchment of the welfare state since the 1990s and the increasing public budget restrictions in EU-member states have made the funding of high quality national care systems even more difficult.
The multiple demographic changes exert pressure on the care service sector to respond to the increasing demand for professionalised care services. There is a lack of qualified labour to satisfy this demand, and there are strong public budget restrictions as well.
The problem of providing high quality care service is related on the one hand to the increase in the demand for care, and on the other to the labour shortage. But at the same time, long-term care is one of the sectors in which the most employment is created.
This book brings together articles by authors from four European countries (Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain) which reflect trends in the search for new combinations between institutional, family and community agents to provide high quality long-term care services. The articles also show the diversity of the national landscapes of care services as well as the variety of possible solutions.