Participation versus social exclusion

Journal of Business Ethics 21 (2-3):269 - 279 (1999)
The different experience of unemployment and of poverty in the two main Western economic systems (roughly, Europe and the US) demonstrates that a simple economic approach to these problems does not exist. In this paper I deal with the question of the impact of technological change on productive activities, employment and income distribution.The main idea is the following: technological progress may lead to an impoverishment of the disadvantaged people in a free-market society, as a consequence of their inability to adjust their skills to the new requirements of the labour market. By contrast, a just society, grounded on moral principles, recognizes that the distributive criterion has to take into account not only individual contributions to production, but also the relative needs of the individuals. In that context, everyone should be better off after a technological change, since it is fair that everyone gains some advantage from a generalized improvement in the productive conditions of society. A policy that adopts this perspective should provide an effective guard against the danger of social exclusion that strikes modern societies.
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