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Changes in political discourse in the open method of coordination on employment and the open method of coordination on social inclusion: an analysis of the neo-liberal and social investment discourse

Lammers, Imke (2013) Changes in political discourse in the open method of coordination on employment and the open method of coordination on social inclusion: an analysis of the neo-liberal and social investment discourse.

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Abstract:In the literature quite contradicting views exist in regard to which discourses are marking the European Union’s social policy, and more precisely the content of the Open Methods of Coordination. Therefore, in this thesis it will first be researched to what extent the content of the OMC on Employment (Council of Ministers’ Employment Guidelines) and the OMC on Social Inclusion (European Council Spring Presidency Conclusions) were marked by the neo-liberal and social investment discourse between 2000 and 2013. This discourse analysis is based on the theory of discursive institutionalism, which considers the role of the actors involved in the formulation of the discourse. Secondly, it is aimed at explaining the presence of these discourses by relating them to two possible independent variables (debt and ideology). For this purpose the research starts with performing a qualitative content analysis that uses Atlas.ti to apply an innovative coding scheme that was developed specifically for this thesis. This coding exercise showed that the social investment discourse was marking the content of the two OMCs stronger than the neo-liberal discourse in all years from 2000 to 2013. Hereby the social investment discourse was especially dominant for the sub-categories ‘Education’ and ‘Equality’, whereas for the core aspects of the two OMCs - ‘Employment’ and ‘Social Inclusion and Poverty’ - ambiguity existed, as both discourses mention these categories. Concerning the role of the two independent variables debt and ideology, the statistical analysis showed that these have to be disregarded as an explanatory factor. However, generally national pressures seem to drive certain discourses stronger in the content of the European Council Spring Presidency Conclusions. Another interesting finding was the fact that the number of sentences that deals with social policy decreased in both OMCs from 2009/2010 on, which was in line with a majority of Member States having excessive debt. Research revealed that attention was shifted to economic issues, which could be an indication of a move towards neo-liberalism. On the other hand it could just mean that Member States are concerned with other issues and therefore do not care much about what is adopted in the OMCs, as these are not linked to any sanctions. The thesis ends with the recommendation that the European Council Spring Presidency Conclusions might benefit from being based on a Commission proposal like the Council of Minister’s Employment Guidelines are.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:European Studies MSc (69303)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/64247
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