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Realities and Perspectives of a New Social Paradigm

Realities and Perspectives of a New Social Paradigm Economy Near Us (XXXVIII)

A New Social Paradigm 

Society is currently undergoing a series of transformations, as a result of the effects of the global pandemic, with consequences in all areas of our existence. Approaching from a conceptual point of view the present reality, the concept of entropy returns to the forefront. More precisely, the specialty literature approaches this concept from a new perspective, namely social entropy based on social justice, founded on the very close, logical relationship between social order and social entropy. Thus, considering that the three pillars on which our form of society is based are self-respect or moral dignity, freedom and democracy, then the concept of social order can be defined as a normative combination of freedom and democracy, which offers a certain measure of individual freedom.

Approaching social entropy from a socialization perspective, within social justice, it is expressed as a deviation of the social order from a structure of the three pillars which is considered appropriate for society. The quantitative measure of the deviation of the self-respect from its optimal possible level is defined in the specialty literature as social entropy. A set of proxies with which social entropy can be measured, which quantifies the deviation from the optimum, includes: negative discrimination (it addresses any type of asymmetric treatment within the society), economic inequality (it addresses asymmetries in economic product distribution which are not based on the asymmetries in effectively contributing to obtain that product, while the individual potential to bring contribution is roughly equal) and corruption (the situation in which people who are employed to handle public money claim and/or receive money in order either to perform what they have to do, or to not perform what they are forbidden to do, no matter the degree or the duration of such a behaviour).

Considering that the social system is an artefact that acts and evolves through human behaviour and social entropy, both conceptually and phenomenologically, is based on the values and requirements of social justice, we can define an abstract typology of societies, based on the social order, which would include: the nomic society (an ordinary society, with an intermediate degree of social order), the quasi-nomic society (where the normative framework is minimal) and the supra-nomic society (where the normative framework is maximum). 

Aspects of Social Inequality 

The asymmetries in today's society place the issue of social inequality in other coordinates. The costs of the pandemic have been disproportionately borne by disadvantaged social groups, by those of low incomes at risk of losing their jobs and reduced living standards. The change in the social hierarchy that favors higher education and jobs with a strong intellectual value has been replaced by organizations that prefer low or medium-skilled employees to help ensure minimum living conditions for the continuation of social and economic life in conditions of isolation. Many factors affect the distribution of income, but technological changes remain an important factor in the increase in social inequality observed recently. Digital technologies have transformed the labour market, and the latest advances in artificial intelligence are driving the digital revolution further. The labour market has benefited unequally from these technological transformations. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the dynamics of increasing social inequality.

The continued development of technology and teleworking further tilts the labour market against low-skilled and low-income employees. The role of the state in income redistribution was also a factor in increasing social inequality. The mitigation of the factors mentioned so far can be done by orienting labour market policies towards improving employee mobility, helping them to opt for new, better jobs, rather than seeking to protect existing jobs. The pandemic showed the weaknesses of social safety nets. Social protection systems should be strengthened, revised, on the basis of formal employer-employee relations, and they should be adapted to a labour market characterized by greater mobility. The post-pandemic period demands more than ever social innovation. Thus, social contracts must be realigned with the changing economy and the nature of work. The social innovation system should also include initiatives aimed at balancing excessive technologization that destroys jobs without increasing labour productivity.

Reducing social inequality can also be achieved by strengthening digital literacy, which could expand access to new opportunities in the labour market. Investment in education and training can be stimulated through the existence of training, retraining and life-long learning programs for people active in the labour market, which respond to changes in the demand for skills. Another aspect that should not be neglected and that can be included in the sphere of social innovation is the creation of opportunities for people who are no longer in the active professional period and can offer specialty consultancy for the fields in which they are experts. 

Social justice today 

Every year, on February 20th, we celebrate World Social Justice Day. This year's theme is “A call for social justice in the digital economy”. The labour market has been continuously changing, especially since the beginning of 2020, when the consequences of the global pandemic led to long-term transformations in work. The digital economy has provided income opportunities, created flexible work schedules, helped disadvantaged people, people with disabilities, young people and migrant workers to actively participate in the labour market. However, the digital gaps between countries and regions in terms of availability, accessibility and use of devices and internet access have also increased, leading to the deepening existing social and economic inequalities.

The digital economy has increased and improved digital interactions between individuals, but at the same time increased social inequality among both organizations and individuals who either do not have access to them or need training to use such methods of work. The development of information and communication technologies has at one time been a sign of the promotion of equality and social justice for a growing number of people. Today's democratic societies must be concerned both with guaranteeing for each individual equal opportunity for self-realization and with identifying the individual “capabilities” they have.

Social justice is a central constituent of the legitimacy and stability of any social community. However, formulating definitions of what social justice means, how it is best done is a sensitive topic of discussion. The concepts of social justice are constantly changing, as ideas are the result of culturally and historically dependent value systems.

 
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OEconomica No. 1, 2016