Kick-off Conference Paris
The kick-off conference of RECWOWE was held in Paris from 18th to 19th December 2006. The objectives of the first conference of RECWOWE were structural, scientific and policy-oriented objectives.
Structural and integrative objectives
RECWOWE's aims consist of the accumulation, integration and diffusion of knowledge. Through its activities, RECWOWE will provide Europe with a complete set of data on the relations between work and welfare, covering 29 countries (the EU 25 plus Norway, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Rumania). Within the framework of the four tensions highlighted above, RECWOWE will gather on-going research which is already financed but runs the risk of being dispersed and unconnected.
RECWOWE aims to build a common research agenda linking its constituting institutions and to promote new joint research activities. We need a NoE to overcome the fragmented way of thinking which traditionally characterises analyses of work, on the one hand, and welfare on the other. If achieved, we would be able to improve our understanding of national diversities that characterise the relationships between labour market and welfare programmes, heightened after the enlargement of EU to the new candidate countries, to improve the quality of scientific analyses (spanning economics, law, politics, sociology, etc.) and, within a proper inter-disciplinary approach, to confront the diversity of doctrinal bases and the diversity of policies.
Central to the above objectives is an improved understanding of the contradictory relations between work and welfare, the contradictory process of embeddedness / externalisation between the two domains, the understanding of the new compromises, the new powers and the role of knowledge in these processes under economic, political, institutional and social pressures. We aim to analyse the relationship between work and welfare not as two separated worlds with specific links between them, but as an integrated whole.
The fundamental objective of RECWOWE is to address a set of dynamics, the transformations of labour markets and of welfare regimes, especially through the analysis and comparison of the policies and reforms implemented. These dynamics are not neutral, passive or determinist evolutions. They are active evolutions, often resulting from the tensions between conflicting individual and collective interests, the challenges and the reforms that they provoke and the new organisations, institutions, social values which they create. The NoE will use the notion of tension as a common platform to the analysis of these dynamics, whatever the domain. It is the foundation of the Joint Programme of Activities of the NoE.
Many evaluations of social policies and employment policies have been conducted over recent decades. The aim of the NoE is not to replicate them but to focus on three main objectives: to gather the methodological aspects of the evaluation of policies in different countries in a guide for policy makers; to gather the evaluation in a long term and comparative perspective; and to focus on new evaluations of the dynamics linked to the notion of tension, that is to assess the quantity and quality of changes implemented, their difficulties, acceptability and outcomes (especially in terms of employment creation, but also of the quality of jobs created, of the social effects of the reforms, etc.)
The diffusion and dissemination of new ideas and understanding on the changes which can contribute to a reconciliation of work and welfare in Europe will be a major objective of RECWOWE. Dissemination activities will be directed toward three audiences: the academic domain, civil society and the policy community. This entails the involvement of the NoE in the dialogue between the scientific community, governmental offices of employment and social security, the European and international organisations (ILO, OECD, EEC, etc.), and social partners, through joint activities with their representatives.