Quo Vadis Europe

Part of the previous story is of course the question mentioned above … – and a small contribution to push the direction can be made here, where the

IASQ is calling scholars to support our Declaration that was published om March 8, 2017. The Declaration, titled The Post Brexit Declaration on Social Quality In Europe, deals with the pressing needs of European society after last year’s victory of the Leave camp in the Brexit vote.



the latest issue of The International Journal of Social Quality

A bit of advertisement – the copy of a mail I received via a mailing list:

Dear Colleague,

We are pleased to announce that the latest issue of The International Journal of Social Quality has recently been published by Berghahn Journals. 

In this issue, the articles consider multiple approaches as they address societal issues such as the challenge of sustainability, gender parity and equality, the digital revolution and its effects on labor markets and Corporate Social Responsibility. This issue also includes an article by Steve Corbett that examines the 2016 Referendum on the United Kingdom’s (UK) European Union (EU) membership. This article will be free to access until March 15!

Please visit the Berghahn website for more information about the journal: 

Current Issue: Volume 6, Issue 1

Editorial: Brexit, Sustainability, Economics, Companies’ Responsibilities, and Current Representations

Free Article – until March 15
The Social Consequences of Brexit for the UK and Europe: Euroscepticism, Populism, Nationalism, and Societal Division
Steve Corbett

Humanosphere Potentiality Index: Appraising Existing Indicators from a Long-term Perspective
Takahiro Sato, Mario López, Taizo Wada, Shiro Sato, Makoto Nishi and Kazuo Watanabe

Gender Parity and Equality in the Sultanate of Oman: A Case in Education for the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries
Faryal Khan and Maricel Fernandez-Carag

Social Quality: Regaining Political Economy
Peter Herrmann

An Exogenous Path of Development: Explaining the Rise of Corporate Social Responsibility in China
Ka Lin, Dan Banik and Longfei Yi

How Our Collective Representations Affect the Future of the European Union
Jan Berting

Be sure to recommend IJSQ to your institution’s library: http://journals.berghahnbooks.com/ijsq/library-recommendations/

Free Sample Issue: http://journals.berghahnbooks.com/ijsq/sample/

Contact: info@berghahnjournals.com

Searching for a new way of Thinking Society for Today

A new piece, written together with Vyacheslav N. Bobkov, is titled

Searching for a new way of Thinking Society for Today—Noospheric Social quality

It is published in Volume 12, Issue 2 of the journal Ekonomika regiona [Economy of Region], on pages 451-462 (doi 10.17059/2016–2–11)

The abstract states:

Obviously, we face an economic crisis that dominates the headlines of daily newspapers, academic journals and features as the title of TV-and-radio casts alike. And, not withstanding political differences, there is widespread consensus that the economic crisis is only the tip of an iceberg. However, there is little readiness to go beyond the inherited fundamental assumptions of a “modern industrial capitalist market society”.
The article argues that all the categories are increasingly under threat. The social quality, the quality of life and the noosphere paradigm of global social development offer space for considerations that question societal developments not only on the phenomenological level. Instead, the authors ventilate gnoseological, ontological and axiological prerequisites of sustainable global social development. The noosphere paradigm is
enriched with the theories of social quality and the quality of life, thus contributing to the wider and diverse debates on what can be called people’s humanistic socialism. In view of the complexity of the impending transition from the present to a future global society with people’s humanistic socialism, it is necessary to plan it thoroughly, beginning with the support of the processes and institutions that currently provide a seedbed;
developing new transformational forms of the future features of global society has to go hand in hand with this. It makes sense to carry on with the conceptualization of questions bearing on the formation of nooshpheric social quality and its design.

Further information cane found on the researchgate site – https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Peter_Herrmann


Two presentations coming up on the 19th of February 2016, another attempt to contribute to understanding a world (‘s development) that is apparently increasingly difficult to be comprehended – but perhaps it is easier than we think.

The one is on:

Space – A Category between Physical Extension, Economic, Re-Production and Understanding the Self

the other looks at

Precarity as Socio-Economic Transformation – New Perspectives on Social Policy

The video of the presentations will be published later.

Opening Views against the Closure of the World

New Publication, open for preorders

Opening Views against the Closure of the World

Author: Peter Herrmann (EURISPES – Istituto di Studi Politici, Economici e Sociali, Rome, Italy, and others)

Book Description: 
The chapters of the present book analyze contemporary societal challenges and changes in light of the social quality approach and French regulationist thinking. This means overcoming as much as possible existing boundaries of social science in some main areas:

  • interdisciplinary approaches are important, but should be pushed beyond the mainstream concept, aiming at an integrated social science approach
  • critique of economism is important, though we should not forget that the question is not about “how much” but about what kind of economy
  • increasingly obvious is the lack of social integrity of contemporary growth policies, but less obvious is what is needed to fundamentally change the scene
  • treating globalization as a matter that goes beyond widening and deepening relations of countries and regions around the globe, seeing it as a news stage of world systems

By working along these different frontlines, the chapters take up important issues that can be found in different areas as ”growth beyond GDP”, human development”, “quality of life”, “world systems” and the like. In the end, it is about looking at the current political-economic patterns and the possibilities they entail when it comes to the claim that “another world is possible”. (Imprint: Nova)

for further information

Social Quality — The Book

Book announcement 

A New Perspective on Social Development

Edited by Ka Lin and Peter Herrmann

160 pages, 21 figs., 26 tables, index

ISBN 978-1-78238-897-5 $39.95/£25.00 Pb Published (July 2015)

eISBN 978-1-78238-898-2 eBook

Social quality thinking emerged from a critique of one-sided policies by breaking through the limitations previously set by purely economistic paradigms. By tracing its expansion and presenting different aspects of social quality theory, this volume provides an overview of a more nuanced approach, which assesses societal progress and introduces proposals that are relevant for policy making. Crucially, important components emerge with research by scholars from Asia, particularly China, eastern Europe, and other regions beyond western Europe, the theory’s place of origin. As this volume shows, this rich diversity of approaches and their cross-national comparisons reveal the increasingly important role of social quality theory for informing political debates on development and sustainability.

Ka Lin is Docent at the University of Tampere, Senior Researcher and Docent at the University of Turku, Professor and Director of the Social Policy Research Center at Nanjing University, Professor and Executive Director of the MSW Center of Zhejiang University, and Deputy Director of the Center for European Studies at Zhejiang University. He is also Vice President of the International Association on Social Quality and Editor of the International Journal of Social Quality.

Peter Herrmann is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Eastern Finland, Honorary Associate Professor in the Department of World Economy at Corvinus University of Budapest, correspondent to the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich, Associate Member of the Eurasian Center for Big History and System Forecasting, and Member of the Scientific Committee of Eurispes. Currently he lives and works in Rome.

Opening Views against the Closure of the World

Just doing there final work – proof reading etc. – A book under the title

Opening Views against the Closure of the World

should then soon ready for publication at http://www.wvfs.at. Some overview in the following. 

The contributions collected in this volumes are all centred around challenges we face globally – and saying globally means that they are taking such perspective seriously as one that “concerns us all”. Too often social science remains explicitly limited by understanding the process of globalisation as a matter of (i) maintaining the old developmentalist perspective, presuming the superiority of what is today called global north or (ii) as suspicious, i.e. defending in one way or another indigeneity. A possible further move consists in (iii) claiming some form of merger, the caminare insieme, for which the present pope can claim some fame, is then reduced on some moral statement, translated into demanding collective rationality against greed and the appealing to the mercy, facing the invisible hand with the negative effects of pure individualism. There remains a huge gap here and there – when it comes to developing an understanding that goes fundamentally further, actually seriously discussing the autochthonous mindsests. And saying this, it is also necessary to remind ourselves that these concepts are anything else than autochthonous. History calls for caution – and though the contributions cannot claim the present a radical rupture in thinking, it is at least an attempt to push considerations further into that direction. In this way the book also tries to give space for questions instead of coming up with answers.

TOC (page numbers provisional)

Preface and Acknowledgements……….. 6

Research on demand Academics between self-consciousness and self-chastisement……….. 14

European Policies of Social Inclusion – Fatality of Good-Will……….. 32

Capability and Social Policy – The Search for Social Quality……….. 63

Social Quality – Social Anomie. Two Sides of one Coin?……….. 88

World Systems Theory and Theory of Social Quality as Proposal for a Methodology for Rethinking a World in Crisis and Transformation……….. 105

Environmental Democracy – New Challenges……….. 133

Crisis and no end !?……….. 152

My Story – A study of Chinese cultural identity in Australia

The book

My Story – A study of Chinese cultural identity in Australia


edited by Fan Hong and Liang Fen had been launched during an international event in Perth, Australia. The book had been published as volume 5 of the series Asia Studies – Within and Without – a book series edited by that is kindly supported also by The Magazine Rozenberg Quarterly.

The blurb of the book states

This research project is a part of the Cultural Identity Research led by the Confucius Institute at the University of Western Australia which focuses on the Chinese who have migrated to Australia since China opened up to the world in the 1980s. In this book we will tell the stories of these ordinary Chinese, their happiness and sorrows, inspirations and difficulties,, and through recorded oral histories we will analyse their cultural identity, and their experience of integration with, and contribution to, this vast far away land. Most of our interviewees, even if they have been living in Australia for many years, struggle to convey their cultural identity. This project is a precursor to further research on this fascinating universal issue for immigrants.

Actually it links into some ongoing research that investigates and discusses the processes of identity building amongst Chinese migrants in Australia, Ireland, Italy and South Africa. Part of the research is including the development of a social quality perspective in this framework.

Europe – Yesterday we stood at the abyss

but now we are moving forward.

Europe is coming to an end …

… at least with the ideas of the new President of the Commisszion.

Now, the summer break is surely ended by now and it is time to look at the awaking world. By now the president of the European Commission is in office. But when looking back, seeing his statement to the European Parliament, then still being candidate for President of the Commission and listening to it is both discouraging. A somewhat boring statement, showing only in few passages some colour, meaning engagement – but this had been not least on occasions where a clear analytical perspective would have been most needed.

Though late, a brief statement on the statement may still be appropriate:

It is amazing in which way, to which extent such candidate, talking to the parliament, i.e. to (the representatives of) the people, can approach burning questions, not least the loss of legitimacy, can argue highly reflexive. Reflexive here is just a nice way, avoiding the use of the term inward looking. Even if he rightly addresses the question of legitimacy (and the lack of it), and in particular the role of the parliament, but also the character of the Commission etc., he overlooked that all this: the institutions and the relationship between them is only about “instruments” to pursue the will of the people or the general will. At least it should be so.

The will of the people or the general will are then in some way addressed later. Leaving the show-off effect out of consideration (Oui, M. Junker, qui est une grande performance: auch ich spreche ein wenig Deutsch, ma la questione è uno dei contenuti; en dit is niet een kwestie van lippendienst, sinó d’abordar realment les qüestions pertinents – sure, limited correctedness and I ask the native speaeker for apologies), it is interesting to see the change to the German language at exactly that point, and even saying it is about changing to the language of the champion. Primus inter pares? Or what is a champion in a Europe of equals.

It is then somewhat worrying – though not surprising – that all this is exactly about those issues as the “Olympic team” (this alludes to the term that had been used a more or less ling time ago when in Germany employability had been closely inked to exactly this point: the orientation on employees as “teams, ready to take part in Olympic games” (“olympiareife Mannschaften”).

Yes, there are without any doubt some valuable points mentioned – the importance of welfare policies that are guaranteeing some minimum standards …

But the overall gist remains sad and saddening. Einstein once stated

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

In clearer language: it is foolish to address the problems we have by making what caused them to instruments to overcome them. However, looking from a point of true political economy at Juncker’s proposals they are just such instruments of foolishness: growth, growth, growth — the outline given for justifying that it will be green viz. sustainable growth, is highly questionable. It had been the orientation on growth as development that sees other than GDP-development only as adjunct, as quasi-automatic, subsequent moves. Growth, even if green, will not stop its destructive force if it is seen as structurally disjoined from sound societal policies.

By the way, Mr Juncker, this had been a major problem standing for a long time always at all those laudable attempts: from Adam Smith’s Moral Sentiments (written before he thought about the Wealth of the Nations) to the surely honest (though in many respect naïve) debates in the circle around Walter Eucken, Franz Böhm, Alexander Rüstow und Wilhelm Röpke etc. (yes, Erhard and Mueller-Armack had been somewhat populist followers of much greater thinkers).

I am not sure if I succeeded, but at least I tried on different occasions to point out that we need an integrated approach, recently for instance in the opening speech, addressing the conference Justice and Solidarity: The European Utopia in a Globalising Era (organised by the European Academy of Sciences and Arts & University of Eastern Finland, in Kuopio – 2./3. September)) and also in a contribution on the “Vatican Spring”, which will soon be published in a book titled “El Papa – ¿Cuántas divisiones tiene?”Sondeo global del catolicismo mundial según el “World Values Survey” y el “European Social Survey” [(Ed. Arno Tausch); The Centro Argentino de Estudios Internacionales, CAEI, Buenos Aires, Study on Global Roman Catholicism].

There is also something that had been discussed recently in Lindau – on the occasion of a meeting of laureates of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel (the so-called Nobel Prize for Economics) – there attac (Association pour la taxation des transactions financières et pour l’action citoyenne) organised a symposium, urging for a move to a different approach. But even some of the laureates had not been too happy with how things work in the growth economy, being especially critical about the austerity policy. James Mirrleess contended that the German chancellor has the wrong advisors. So, yes, may the future president of the Commission then join them.

Well, then to a metaphor that is really pointing on the dramatic dimension of the current situation: the “29th member state”. Yes, there is a major problem: what we discussed (we, i.e. in the political debates in the institutionalised Europe) in the 1970s ff. as poverty and social inclusion reached a level and even more so a quality that deserves some more reflection. And the metaphor of a 29th member state is usefully highlighting the dramatic character. But there remains a … but …

I am not switching to Greek, Irish, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish language, the language of “the losers”. And even if it is indeed laudable that Greece had been rescued, as pointed out in the statement, it had not been really about repairing a plane while in the air. It had been more about crashing the plane, then collecting the valuable parts from the ground while leaving the corpses there, may be giving them a friendly blessing.

The fundamental question is if we should simply look for ways to “enlarge” the Union by including this “29th member state”, or if we have to look more closely into building a new Union – one which does not allow for such exclusion at first instance.

These will also be issues that will be discussed on the 17th ff. of September in Moscow (http://www.vcug.ru/conference/conference_eng/) (see also the debate in the recent publication: Herrmann, Peter/Bobkov, Viacheslav/Csoba, Judit: Labour Market and Precarity of Employment: Theoretical Reflections and Empirical Data from Hungary and Russia; Vienna: WVFS; 2014.

It may be worthwhile to look at the end of these brief reflections at a short contribution of the Social Platform, European NGOs gathered to lobby the European institutions, being quite optimist, contending the tension:

I can already hear some of you saying “that does not answer the immediate challenges” or “this is not what the President Elect of the Commission put on the table in July”. And I would say “actually its does”

In the following we read then

The social shield we are calling for includes The President Elect’s proposal to “put in place a minimum wage, and a guaranteed minimum income.” But it brings much more into debate with the financing of social services and the availability of unemployment benefits. The access to quality services we promote could be challenged by the negotiations on the transatlantic trade agreement (TTIP) that the new commission will finalise. The directive blocked by the EU countries to remove discrimination in access to service is another instrument to reach our broader objective. There are bigger challenges in the EU that need broader instruments.

But at the end, al these points are still very much about rebuilding the existing state, actually enforcing it by providing a shield, however forgetting that it is about the need of a real vision, and such real vision has to be one that is seriously taking up the challenge of a fundamental change. In other words:

Looking at the bigger picture will help us with a new EU route

is one way of seeing it.

The other is about the old questions we know from Alice and the Cat.

‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

‘I don’t much care where–’ said Alice.

‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

‘–so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.

‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’

In other words: there is the danger of looking for better ways of dealing with the existing faulty systems instead of looking for better systems. May be the cat was right:

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.

‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’

‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.

‘You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’

Relationality …. forest – trees

We, working on social quality, thought for many years now how to explain properly what it is about, the social, defined as

an outcome of the interaction between people (constituted as actors) and their constructed and natural environment. Its subject matter refers to people’s interrelated productive and reproductive relationships. In other words, the constitutive interdependency between processes of self-realisation and processes governing the formation of collective identities is a condition for the social and its progress or decline.[1]

Perhaps it is easy – at least grasping one decisive part. It is a poem which I actually quoted already many years ago, when writing my doctoral thesis:


Yaşamak bir ağaç gibi

tek ve hür ve bir orman gibi


bu hasret bizim.

            (Nâzım Hikmet)


To live in solitude and free

like a tree but on the same time

like a forest in solidarity

this yearning is ours.

(Nâzım Hikmet)


How often do we forget the essentials – also in daily life, even if we try to improve it. Or especially then …


[1]            van der Maesen, Laurent J.G./Walker, Alan, 2012: Social Quality and Sustainability; in: Van der Maesen, Laurent J.G./Walker, Alan (eds.): Social Quality. From Theory to Indicators: Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan; 250-274; here: 260