In Governing Social Risk in Post-crisis Europe, Colin Crouch gives a detailed review of the state of social risk in different policy regimes across Europe. The social risk that is examined here, is the risk relating to personal income- and livelihood uncertainties. This comparative study examines the issue of social risk on a temporal as well as a geographic scale. Pre- and post- the economic crisis, and between geographic regions. Though the development post the crisis is an important topic, the greater take away is how well different countries coped and adapted to the changed circumstances. In the analysis of policy regimes, Crouch goes beyond the classic dichotomy of liberal vs. socialist governance and introduce the category of the traditional policy regime, where social security and social mobility is provided through the family. With a model consisting of social (state), traditional (family) and liberal (market) policy profiles, he categorizes the countries of Europe between these with a wide range of economic and labour market statistical data.
With this policy landscape imposed on the nations of Europe, clusters of policy become evident and the book gives a more detailed mapping of governance and risk, than the commonly used north-south or East-West contradictions. It is discussed how national traditions and cultures have shaped national policy trajectories and then the author goes on to analyse how social groups are affected, marginalised, or included in different ways in each country and hence governance profiles.
In the first chapters of the book, the theoretical framework is presented and central themes are translated into operational concepts for statistical analysis. Of the many concepts he translates into international comparable statistical variables, I find the variable representing class solidarity debatable. The number of labour union members is used as an indicator of the strength of class solidarity. Nevertheless, many different factors can influence union size and class solidarity can materialise in many ways other than union membership. However, Crouch does point out that it is a proxy for class solidarity in absence of any better alternative.
The chapters in the central part of the book are devoted to the statistical comparisons and analysis of the European countries. The focus is on how the different policies displace the economic risk of the population. This is examined in the chapters, separating workers from consumers, separating consumption from labour income, and integrating consumption and labour income. Here he shows how risk is transferred, dependent on the policy regime, between social groups, between present and future, or between the collective and the individual.
The last part of the book discusses the larger scale developments in Europe, and if the degree of social risk correlates with governance profiles, in particular, if a lower level of social risk is associated with the social-democratic policy regime. The author contemplates on what futures the three policy regimes hold and what possibilities they give for innovation, competitiveness, collectivity and inclusion.
The book does not give a deeper discussion of risk, nor does it offer any governance recommendation. It present a benchmark of social risk in the different EU countries and policy regions. It examines how social risk is related to governance profiles, while the outcome they have on different population and class segments are thoroughly discussed. It is a post-crisis assessment of how policy traditions on the European continent mitigate and shape social risk.
As a thorough and nuanced analysis of social risk in relation to policy regimes, this is a relevant and interesting read for scholars in the social sciences, particularly in the fields of public policy or European studies. Although policy- and decision makers would benefit from reading this book, it seems intended more for academia than the political profession.