Eloi Laurent

The "Swedish method" refers to the Swedes' collective capacity to adapt to the successive economic and social challenges they face in today's world. The present study attempts to raise and shed light on two issues: the inner workings of the "Swedish method"; its sustainability in the current phase of globalization. More specifically, we try to determine whether confidence and social cohesion, at the heart of Sweden's success, may be affected by the changes in public policy induced by a strategy of openness and adaptation that Sweden has considerably encouraged in recent years. We begin by surveying the literature on the relationship between confidence, social cohesion and economic performance to measure the respective importance of the factors of social cohesion. We then show how these components have been crystallized into institutions according to three socioeconomic rationales, the social democratic rationale at the heart of the Swedish system differing from the rationale of social segmentation. The study then takes a fresh look at Sweden's economic and social performance today and describes in detail the contemporary Swedish growth strategy, typical of a "small" country. We then describe the evolution of macroeconomic, fiscal, immigration and education policies and point out a weakening of collective protection schemes and the alteration of certain crucial public policies, an evolution that in the long run could call into question the Swedish governance strategy by eroding social cohesion.

Chloé Froissart

Hukou is a system for registering and controlling the population set up under Mao to promote the socialist development program. It has created a lasting division between urban and rural areas and has given rise to differences in status that violate the Chinese constitution, which stipulates that all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law. Maintaining the hukou system and cleverly adapting this communist institution in answer to the country’s social and economic changes largely explains how the CCP remains in power. Hukou helps manage development by controlling urban expansion and favoring rapid industrialization at a lesser cost to the state. Despite accelerated reforms to the system in recent years, it has perpetuated inequality among citizens. Hukou thus remains a tool of the party’s divide-and-rule strategy. The reforms, which promote greater social mobility and help ensure that elites remain behind the central power, also curb social unrest, although in a context in which hukou has never been so criticized. The system thus remains the bedrock of an authoritarian regime, serving its two priorities: maintaining social stability and high growth rate.

A rather marginal theme in Eastern European studies before the end of communism, ethnic politics and minority policies in Central and South-East Europe have given birth to a very rich body of literature in the 1990s. Some analyses have been influenced by the so-called “transitology” paradigm; others have borrowed from ethnic conflict studies. In both cases, though, ethnocultural diversity has mostly been treated in a normative way and portrayed as an obstacle to democratization. As for ethnic parties, they have alternatively been presented as conducive to better political participation and integration for the minorities (in a multiculturalist perspective) or as a threat to state stability and to democracy. Regardless of these cleavages, most research on ethnic identifications and on their mobilization in politics has been grounded upon substantial definitions of ethnic “groups” and has reified differences between “generalist” and “ethnic” parties. The present comparison between the trajectory of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MFR, which represents the interests of the Turks and other Muslims in Bulgaria) and that of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (DAHR, representing the Hungarian population) departs from these approaches in two ways. First, it emphasizes the centrality of the sociology of collective action to understanding the politicization of ethnicity, while insisting on the need to trace the particular historical processes through which ethnicity has been constructed and politicized in every single case. Second, attention is brought to the role the social imaginary plays in shaping the strategies of social and political actors. To put it otherwise, we argue that identities are not exogenous to politicization processes; they are redefined, renegotiated and reappropriated as social actors invest the political field. “Ethnic parties” are in urgent need of deexoticization: Like most parties, they cannot elude the traditional dilemmas of political representation, in particular the need to be perceived as both responsive and accountable.

Alexandrine Brami Celentano, Jean-Marc Siroën

Since the 1970s, the world follows a triple evolution in favor of democratization, opening and decentralization. Brazil has been following this movement with a democratic and decentralizing constitution and by the adoption of market-friendly policies. However, since the Real Plan (1993), Brazil is recentralizing its fiscal policy. The huge increase of public expenses is predominantly at the profit of the Union, which imposes new fiscal constraints to the States and Municipalities. If the international integration is frequently associated to tax limitations and decentralization, Brazil would depart from this general trend. However Brazilian integration is recent and partial. Integration does not seem to increase inequalities what would justify a centralized transfer from the “winning” regions to the “losing” ones. The fiscal recentralization by higher public expenses might be therefore explained by the political will to reduce initial inequalities and to implement a better social protection. We show that fiscal recentralization is also the consequence of a distorted fiscal system notably in the nature of social security taxes and the type of VAT (ICMS) applied by States.

Isabelle Rousseau

Facing a very complex environment with many economical, geopolitical and climate uncertainties and risks, National and International Oil Companies have been looking for a more rationale organizational structure to hold out against competition. This is the problem Pemex – the Mexican National Oil Company - which is third-ranked in world oil production, has been facing with. The reform process is not easy: it implies changes to the Constitution. With the recent democratization of the political regime, none of the major political parties alone is dominant in the Congress and has the capacity to push through such changes. Since the beginning of the nineties, the teams who governed Pemex tried to reply the following questions: Which kind of organizational mechanisms would allow Pemex to conserve its condition as a National Company and, in the same time, to be managed with the private sector principles and criteria? More concretely, is it possible to stimulate a market context inside a state monopoly without modifying the text of the Constitution? How can a new labor culture be created when the very influential Oil Trade Union has been maintaining a corporatist logic of the ancien régime? How to introduce criteria for corporate social responsibility when secrecy has been part of the traditions in the management of the company? What kind of evaluation is it possible to make nowadays about the reforms those managers offered?

Ioulia Shukan

Since the Orange Revolution in autumn 2004 which brought the formal political opposition to power behind the candidacy of Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine has been undergoing another transition phase. Change is certainly perceptible on several levels, but the economic and political legacy left by the authoritarian regime of Leonid Kuchma continues to weigh on politics in the country. By adopting a combined approach involving a sociology of the actors and an institutional analysis we assess these changes with respect two key issues: the delinking of political power and economic interests and the constitutional reform. The attitude of the Orange governing team with regard to oligarchic power has changed considerably, moving from the threat of expropriation by re-privatization to the acknowledgment of their importance in the national economy. In reviewing the terms of the constitutional reform, it becomes clear that although such reform was made possible by an unprecedented sharing of political power at the highest state level, between a President and a Prime Minister of opposite political bents, it has nevertheless encountered considerable obstacles to its implementation, due to conflicting interpretations and disagreement between the heads of state and government as to the redefinition of their respective roles. These transformations result in a recurrent modification of the rules of the political game and are likely to jeopardize the progress made on the path to democratization.

François Vergniolle de Chantal

The Republican Party’s identity as fashioned since 1964 is poles apart from the moderate conservatism that had characterised the party until then. The party ideology has become populist, religious and nationalistic. It results from Barry M. Goldwater and later Richard Nixon’s "southern" electoral strategy. The party cashed in on the discontent sown among the southern population by racial integration, and has consequently made the former Confederate States its stronghold. This shift has been so large in scope that it constitutes the main feature of US politics in the past four decades. Political initiative has since then been primarily rightwing, weakening the Democrats. When the GOP won a majority in the South, the Democratic coalition suffered a trauma it has yet to recover from. The nationalist reaction to the 9/11 attacks gave the Republicans a supplementary political base. Nevertheless, this comeback does not have sufficiently stable elements allowing for a lasting Republican coalition. The Republicans’ strength resides in the fervour that surrounds them, as well as, as we will argue, in the Democrats’ inability to define a tactic to face the Republican challenge. Yet, the balance of (electoral) power does not tip to the Republicans. Although demographical and geographical factors favour the right, social evolutions tend to favour the Democrats. The latter may lack strategy, but they do not lack resource. The situation is exactly the opposite for the Republicans.

Anne Rulliat

The city of Shanghai, which has been hard hit by the various reorganizations of state enterprises since the early 1990s, is a forerunner in policies to battle unemployment, to the extent that its achievements are often referred to by the expression the Shanghai model(Shanghai moshi). The city has been experiencing a variety of forms of unemployment since the year 2000, affecting not only workers in state enterprises but all categories of the population, particularly young people. This study examines the Shanghai model, first describing the causes of unemployment in Shanghai, and then tracing the development of the measures taken in the past ten years or so. From the widespread structural unemployment in the years 1996-1997 to the more contextual unemployment in recent years, the city has devised a whole array of measures that are constantly evolving. Some are specifically adapted to the organization of Chinese society, but a number of others are similar to those adopted in OECD countries. In opposition to the liberal discourse on the mercantilization of labor, these measures demonstrate a strong state voluntarism in employment policies. The preservation of social stability serves as a yardstick to gauge the effectiveness of these public policies.

Marc Valeri

The sudden slump in oil production since 2001 has only heightened the question of an alternative to an economy based on oil revenues, whereas the sultanate had undergone exponential development over the three preceding decades. From this standpoint, the policy of Omanizing the labor force conditions all other issues, as it is not merely an economic matter, but instead deeply alters the social fabric that remained intact during the era of prosperity, thereby questioning the very legitimacy of Oman’s economic model. Omani society is currently experiencing a rise in frustrations reflected in a resurgence of particularist prejudices and demands. Alongside this phenomenon is an exacerbation of inequality, particularly due to the enmeshment of economic and decisionmaking powers in the hands of the oligarchy that has benefited from these revenues since 1970. To what extent do the changes Oman is going through today harbor a threat for the stability of a regime considered to be one of the most stable in the region?

Renaud Egreteau

The Burmese junta that came to power in 1962, and reaffirmed its domination by a second military coup d’état in September of 1988, has steadily increased its control over the nation’s institutions and over the running of the country (renamed Myanmar in 1989). In August of 2003, the decision taken by General Khin Nyunt, Prime Minister and head of military intelligence, to propose “a road map to democracy” suggested that a gradual “transition to democracy”, closely supervised by the military regime, was possible. But the ousting of Khin Nuyunt in October 2004 spelled the return of the regime’s hardliners and of the last of the army’s nationalist chiefs, adamantly opposed to any negotiations with the democratic civilian opposition led by Aung San Suu, held under house arrest since May 2003. Thus the regime, strengthened by a favorable strategic environment, has a good chance of remaining in power by setting its own rules for “democratic” procedures, its aim being to keep the country stable rather pursuing a process of liberalization. Such a policy will inevitably be detrimental to the interests of the opposition and the ethnic minorities.