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Globalisation and/or Europeanisation? The Case of Flexicurity

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The relationship between globalisation and Europeanisation is conventionally studied by focusing on the domestic level. In this article we explore this relationship at the international level instead. We examine the way in which the two phenomena in the form of the ILO and the EU relate to one another. Adopting a discursive institutionalist approach and focusing on flexicurity, we investigate whether, how and under what conditions the discourse on flexicurity provides a point of convergence or divergence between globalisation and Europeanisation. Our empirical data reveals attempts by the European Commission to use globalisation as a legitimating device for a market-accommodating programme for labour market reform. The ILO remains more sceptical, both about the overall effects of globalisation and the more concrete uses of flexicurity. Meanwhile, the concept of flexicurity is subject to change and rearticulation in line with the evolving policy agenda endorsed by the Commission and/or the member states. The relationship between Europe and globalisation is thus far from neutral. ‘Europe’ is active in shaping globalisation; translated into the work undertaken here, Europeanisation could be conceived as a facet of globalisation rather than as a bulwark to it, or merely as a process running parallel to it.
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Keywords: EU; Europeanisation; ILO; discourse; flexicurity; globalisation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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