III International Conference on Sociology of Public and Social Policies

JUNE 1-2, 2017

The acceleration of globalization is creating profound changes in the social fabric of Western societies facing them with new ghosts. These times are marked by different phenomena -associated with globalization- such as deindustrialization and transformation of production and occupational structures, processes of growing inequality or mass flows of population flows across borders.

Some have a direct effect on levels of wellbeing and security that were so far believed to be guaranteed. Others are felt as disturbance and threat, causing various kinds of social reactions.

According to the best available evidence, globalization seems to have increased the income of most of the world's population. However, in the First World new forms of inequality that create social exclusion and frustration of expectations for broad sections of the population are emerging. Part of these social segments carry the risk of being left behind, of missing the boat in a context of major changes of the technological and production milieau, which impose the automation of production processes and demand the acquisition of new skills, condemning others to obsolescence. In this changing world, new groups appear at risk of permanent exclusion, exposed to chronic unemployment, lack of opportunities, and extreme vulnerability (for instance, in access to basic supplies such as housing or energy).

Alongside these, another part -the precariat-experiences precariousness in the labour market in a state of constant anxiety, feeling unable to plan future horizons, to follow the routes that traditionally made up the life cycle (with respect to emancipation, creating a family, family planning decisions, etc.) and meeting socially established normative expectations and aspirations. For the first time in many decades, large sections of the adult or elderly population perceive that their children are deemed to live in worse conditions than they enjoy. At the same time discourses that warn of contraction (if not disappearance) of the middle classes flourish.

In this scenario new fractures appear and new conflicts spread. This framework of growing conflict feeds processes of disaffection and insurgency. After years of crisis and uncertainty, expert knowledge has been challenged for not offering recipes to address the new realities of social vulnerability, if not for complicity with the political elites which are perceived as responsible for these processes. A wave of anti-expertism runs through the western world. We can find populist leaders who exploit public disaffection in its various manifestations taking a leading role, promising to overcome the current conditions either through building walls, breaking territorial frameworks of sovereignty or constituent processes that aspire to radically change the status quo.

At the same time, this is a framework that opens opportunities. The most obvious is to rethink public policies that have failed to provide adequate answers to these undercurrents. Globalization has created new social risks that have materialized in needs that, in view of all these manifestations of disaffection and outrage, public policies have failed to satisfactorily address. Policies of economic development and reindustrialization, educational policies, lifelong learning and employment activation, income maintenance and support to excluded sectors, emancipation policies, policies to ensure the right to housing and basic supplies, labour policies, policies of management of migratory flows and intercultural coexistence (to mention only some that are more directly involved in addressing emerging social issues linked to globalization) should be the subject of deep reflection.