Monday, 9 July 2012

Social Polarisation, the Labour Market and Economic Restructuring in Europe: An Urban Perspective

an article by Jonathan Pratschke (University of Salerno, Italy) and Enrica Morlicchio (University of Naples, Italy) published in Urban Studies Volume 49 Number 9 (July 2012)


It is frequently argued that changes in the occupational structure and labour markets of European cities have the potential to undermine social cohesion.

The term ‘social polarisation’ has been widely employed to characterise this effect, either in a broadly descriptive manner or in line with specific hypotheses.

In the first part of this article, alternative definitions are reviewed and the results of empirical research on social polarisation are summarised. Some of its limitations are discussed and its theoretical origins explored.

In the second part, attention is turned to the ‘mechanisms’ driving change in workplaces and urban labour markets in Europe. It is argued that an accurate account of changing occupational structures and labour markets in European cities – and a balanced assessment of their consequences for social cohesion – can only be obtained by building up a complex and carefully contextualised analysis of the ways in which these ‘mechanisms’ interact in different cities.

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