9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN26 Sociology of Social Policy

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 The Making of EU Social Policy: Theoretical Perspectives Building II, Auditório C1.04

The impact of the individualization process on the social policy

There is an assumption in the modern sociological debate that Western societies are more individualized as a result of the modernization process. People become emancipated from communities which once had defined their place in the society. In the first phase of individualization an disembeddement from communites of descent could have been observed; in the second phase a diminution of social structure took place.

The process of so called structural individualization (Ulrich Beck) leads to the situation, where it is no longer the social position which defines our biography, but the individuals who are getting more and more responsible for their life.

On the other hand, the social policy is still based on Bismarck's and Beveridge's contribution, as well as on a social solidarity principle. This contradiction between the process of individualization and social policy principles is a subject of this presentation. Our aim is to show how the individualization process can induce changes in social policy and how the social policy can use the new forms of sociality, as "new tribes", "imaginated communities", "communities of assent" or "virtual communities". Although these new forms of sociality are less formalized and less visible, their presence and functioning have been well documented in a social discourse.

Our presentation focuses on a local social policy, where the informal ties play the most significant part. In our opinion the proper use of the individualization process can promote the development of local communities provided the role of social participation and of new communities is increased .