The underclass and international comparison, variety and universalism
in Western capitalism in transition
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Starting from Enzo Mingione's work, this chapter illustrates the complex task of social science in dealing with the construction of concepts for comparing social situations cross-nationally and transnationally, in the domain of social policy and poverty, because of national traditions. It focuses on the very special role played by the European Union in this process of international comparison and circulation of concepts. Finally the complex task of the social scientist is illustrated by a case study of the use of the terms 'underclass', 'exclusion/esclusione' and 'marginalizzazione/marginalità'. In order to understand this difficult process we need to resort not only to English, but also to Italian and French. The chapter also focuses on the practice of sociology between its conceptual universalism and its radical embeddeness in an empirical practice marked by various national languages.

Western capitalism in transition

Global processes, local challenges

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