Wednesday, 23 May 2018
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Potential Impacts

Social inequality is a major issue that affects the economic, social and democratic performance and stability of post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe and as a result has a significant bearing on Europe as a whole. The main contribution of the proposed project, therefore, will in the creation of new knowledge and the development of mechanisms for its dissemination that will augment the capacity of national governments and the European Union to understand and reduce social inequalities.

The international economic competitiveness of nations clearly depends on a number of factors. Moreover, there appears to be no single successful way of organising a competitive national economy, even in an age of globalisation. However, particularly in Europe and even more particularly in post-Communist Eastern Europe, social inequality may be connected with prospects for economic competitiveness and development. If this is the case, reducing social inequality may have a significant impact on the economic development of states, with positive benefits for their economic and political partners.

The debate about the determinants of economic growth and competitiveness is clearly extensive and not yet wholly resolved. However, a number of the most theoretically and empirically founded hypotheses about economic competitiveness - (i) market liberalisation, (ii) trade openness, and (iii) development of high levels of cultural capital among citizens - also have significant implications and connections with the issue of social inequality.

Societal problems, of course, can be construed very broadly to include economic and political issues (discussed above and below). We choose here to concentrate on the processes by which social inequality may lead to lack of social cohesion and social conflict, as follows:

There is considerable evidence of potential links between social inequality and democratisation and democratic consolidation and political conflict avoidance, as follows:

In post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe, therefore, social inequality may have a powerful impact on the political prospects of undemocratic (Belarus), marginally democratic (Russia), democratising (Ukraine) as well as other states in the process of democratic consolidation.

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