Program of the Graduiertenkolleg

"The Future of the European Social Model"

Objectives of the programme: Research and teaching of the programme which has been funded by the DFG since October 1997 are based on the assumption that despite European diversity we can identify a European Social Model. The idea of a European Social Model was abstracted from litera-ture on varieties of capitalism, democracies, and welfare states. It has also been rooted in historical thinking. The interdisciplinary programme addresses three key questions:

1. How do we define a European Social Model? And how do we describe and explain its formative stages and critical historical junctures?

2. Which trends towards the erosion of the European Social Model and its institutions can be identified in general and in EU-European countries? Which are the main driving forces (ideas, interests)?

3. A New European Social Model? Does it emerge? How can its formation and shape be described and explained? Can we identify new winners and losers? Which discourse accompanies policies which restructure or erode institutions and compromises which previously constituted the European Social Model?

Jacques Delors was one of the first to speak about a ‘European Social Model’ in the 1980s to introduce an idea into the arduous process of European integration that was to help European citizens to identify with the integration project. Those employing the term today envision a Social Europe which may still be called ‘European’ but deviates in many respects from older ideas embedded in European institutions. Focusing on exogenous and endogenous challenges as well as politics of readjustment and institution building the programme investigates how new and old ideas and institutions of a European Social Model blend. Issues of institutional change and its possible outcomes guide current comparative research projects.