Explaining the underdevelopment of 'Social Europe': a critical realization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that existing accounts of the underdevelopment of 'Social Europe' have failed to adequately integrate the contending obstacles that explain the absence they rightly identify. It argues that by employing a critical realist methodology, including the concepts of generation, emergence, and stratification, it is possible to more adequately integrate knowledge of the obstacles to 'Social Europe'. Concretely, the article argues that obstacles to 'Social Europe' exist at three strata, constituted by institutional relations, political relations, and Europe-wide social relations, respectively. The underdevelopment of 'Social Europe' emerged from the institutional stratum, which in turn was generated (but not determined) by the underlying political relations, which were themselves in turn generated by EU-wide social relations. From this perspective, the oft-lamented absence of 'Social Europe' is an emergent property of underlying institutional, political and EU- wide social relations; its occurrence, therefore, is far less contingent than existing, less integrated, accounts suggest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-245
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of European Social Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008


  • Workers' Consultation Directive
  • 'Social Europe'
  • critical realism
  • social policy
  • worker participation


Dive into the research topics of 'Explaining the underdevelopment of 'Social Europe': a critical realization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this