Governing Work and Welfare in a New Economy: European and American Experiments.

Author:King, Mary C.
Position:Book Review
 
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Governing Work and Welfare in a New Economy: European and American Experiments, edited by Jonathan Zeitlin and David M. Trubek. New York: Oxford University Press. Paperback, ISBN 0199257175, $39.50. 420 pages.

This book comprises a set of thirteen essays by an interdisciplinary and international group of scholars pulled together by the European Union Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their shared purpose is to examine the ways in which the European Union, its member nations, and the United States are managing the contemporary challenges of changing workplaces, family strategies, and international economic pressures. As Jonathan Zeitlin points out in a very useful introductory chapter, not only are the issues complex but the governance of these issues is "among the wickedest of 'wicked problems'" (p. 3), involving as it does many policy domains at multiple policy levels: local, state, national, and--in the case of the European Union-international.

The real focus of the book is the new governance structures of the European Union. The European Union is developing a system for integrating nations with extremely varied institutional and policy histories into a single policy framework that allows for local conditions and popular participation. The new structure must cope with Torben Iverson and Anne Wren's "service economy trilemma" faced by all advanced economies (p. 8). The trilemma is the challenge of maintaining "budget restraint, earnings equality and employment growth in an open economy, where international competition and technological innovation restrict job creation in the exposed (mainly manufacturing) sector, capital mobility inhibits fiscal expansion, and relative productivity remains low in the labor-intensive sheltered service sector" (p. 9).

With labor markets and industrial relations at center stage, the largest section of the book focuses on the workings of new E.U. mechanisms to govern by objective, to coordinate national policies and share "best practices" while recognizing the importance of local differences and local voices. What is required, in the terminology of Maurizio Ferrera and Anton Hemerijck, is the recalibration of Europe's several welfare regimes along multiple dimensions; these include the functional to deal with changing demographics and gender roles, the distributive to ameliorate age, class, insider/outsider and labor market segmentation rifts, the normative to switch from a single breadwinner to a...

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