Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Poverty of Experience: by Hatto Fischer

When the EU designated 2010 as the year in which "to combat social exclusion and poverty", there was some hope that, finally, a huge problem linked to unemployment (but not only) would be tackled in earnest (for figures outlining the situation see Appendix I). However, due to the mounting financial crisis which started with an implosion in the banking sector in 2008 and continued at a higher level once it became known that European member states would be forced to seek bail-outs due their rising state deficits (Greece, Ireland and Portugal, but also Spain and Italy etc.), all hopes of finding immediate remedies were dashed.

More so, at risk are by now all the major achievements of the EU, including the Euro as the common currency, open borders and social and economic cohesion throughout Europe. Instead, austerity measures evoke more social injustice as the gap between rich and poor threatens to widen still further. This is mainly because ill-conceived economic policy is about to drive many to accept a lower income, even if bankruptcy and unemployment can be avoided, and so into poverty. Altogether, the future of Europe seems bleak as the prospects for a long, but miserable life lengthen like the shadow when the sun goes down.

Usually both poverty and social exclusion are seen by experts advising the EU Commission as outcomes of an impoverished childhood and lack of education. Consequently the EU Commission proposes a number of measures to deal especially with those who have been deprived since childhood of a chance to enjoy a decent life. However, as the economist Louis Baeck points out, these measures have led to no more than meagre economic growth rates which are not enough to generate real employment opportunities. In addition, the most recent state deficit crisis has revealed the shortcomings of having introduced a common currency without common economic governance.

Europe is simply failing to find satisfactory solutions to off-set all these negative developments1

Not surprisingly, widespread agreement existed at the latest by 2008 that the ambitious goal of the Lisbon agenda, namely to make Europe into a highly competitive knowledge economy, could not be fulfilled by 2010. Realising this, the new buzz-word in Brussels has become instead 'smart growth', along with such catchy but highly problematic terms as 'sustainable development' and 'economic governance''.

Moreover, when turning to 'cultural and creative industries to see how best to unlock their potential, reference is made in the EU 2020 vision to an 'economy of experience. Presumably the EU Commission means by this the enrichment possibilities of experiences as offered by modern technology. Consequently the European Commission gives greater priority to more 'intangible' than 'tangible' experiences 2. In addition, the EU Commission refers to demands for new kinds of social experience made possible through networking. Both kinds of experiences are deemed to be the new factors of competitiveness in an economy.

Still, what an 'economy of (a certain) experience' means, has to be clarified. The term 'experience' itself has many ramifications and implications. For one, such a term cannot be easily adapted by all member states, as they have vastly different cultural backgrounds (as revealed not only in their daily language but in what philosophical approaches they have developed over time to 'experience' as a validation base for knowledge). Further, epistemological clarification can indicate that, although in the English language there is only one word for experience, the German language makes a distinction between 'Erlebnis' (the sensual experience made in a moment of happening) and 'Erfahrung' (experience acquired over time by having discovered a lawful and therefore valid way of doing things).

It follows that, in a man-made world shaped by science, 'Erfahrung' predominates. Hence it is scientific knowledge and, therefore, technology that preconditions the making of an experience. And experience resulting out of an experiment presupposes a learning hypothesis, otherwise no experience can be made. Kant's philosophy was to reflect the time and space configurations which can limit the possibilities of making a particular experience (observation) happen. Needless to say such confinement of possibilities adds to the already sufficiently complicated issue of what can be understood by the term 'experience'.

It goes without saying that 'enrichment possibilities of experiences' as envisioned by the EU Commission leads to still further questions as to what is intended. Experiences can vary from highly suggestive ones to unbearable ones due to their degrees of artificiality. Above all this trend would lead to live in a confined world since bolstered by a commercial value system preferring only experiences which can be made if paid for. It can start with paying a prostitute in order to have a sexual experience. In a more intangible way, anything passes as experience, as long as it is paid for, and so a dip in a swimming pool as part of a paid hotel stay would be preferred to swimming in the open sea. If, however, swimming in the sea was to be called for, then along some artificial beach built extra for such purpose. Such tourist and hotel developments take place on many Greek islands, and not only. They are build up without heeding the consequences of having damaged the delta spreading across the area where the river enters the sea. In other words, the artificial experiences on a lovely beach preclude the destruction of wetlands - despite these providing natural filtration of the fresh water before it enters the sea and despite the fact that this would have formed natural beaches. It goes without saying that such confinement comes with what Michael Moore has characterised as 'business with fear' (as involved in the intrusion into the wetlands as places infested with insects) with the result that people flock into expensive hotel rooms and use pools rather than camp outside and swim in the open sea.

Since recourse to such kind of paid-for 'experiences' has far-reaching implications for culture, something more needs to be said. For once the direction of development is based on an 'economy of experience', such a society will deprive itself of many invaluable experiences, and whilst it is common to assume that a lack of experience is a problem for those seeking jobs, what is not seen is that this development deprives almost everyone of having the necessary experience when it comes, for instance, to protecting and preserving nature. Instead, a fear of nature has driven societies in the wrong direction.

This then leads to a question of methodology. Above all, when taking a second look at the indicators which the EU Commission uses to establish social exclusion and poverty, and whilst trying to understand what the EU means by an 'economy of experience', it becomes apparent that the problems of poverty and social exclusion are not merely materially rooted - that they are only the results of a lack of money to be gained through a job. Rather these problems are due to much deeper cultural factors linked to how experiences are told and valorized.

A cultural understanding of poverty and social exclusion in the twenty-first century can depart from anthropological and ethnological assumptions about experiences required by society.. Naturally in a hunting society other experiences were asked for in comparison to an agricultural or industrial society,. Nowadays, it is said a knowledge society prevails, but it remains quite unclear what experiences are needed, in order to cope with all the new demands within this new form of existence. Hence any clarification thereof would require a cultural adaptation process based on extrapolation (Piaget) so as to relate to the needs of others, in particular of those who lack experience. Important would be to do so in a humane way. Yet in a communication and information society, anyone participating needs to have already an economic base prior to being able to communicate within such a system. This 'literacy' requirement stipulates experiences made outside the system do not count. Hence an already all exclusive system defines which experiences are of relevance. If that is the case, then only such experiences can be made which confirm to this one sided and equally over dependency from such a communication and information system.

While a Capitalist system with smoking chimneys was still very real, a virtual economy based on information systems working with such terms as 'real time' when incoming information counts, is much more difficult to grasp, never mind to resist. Any attempt to bring about a change will also have to take into consideration what people are willing to undertake. Indeed. Marx cautioned that 'people are only then willing to recognize problems, when they see a solution to them'. Whilst refusing to see the problems but also the opportunities which exist outside and beyond their own self-understanding, by not stepping outside their 'normal life', they remain automatically locked in with the system. Like the slaves who prefer the whip of the master to the unknown because that creates fear, they do not step outside as it requires making new experiences and dealing with the unknown. It goes without saying that this blocks out of their consciousness a world only to be really experienced once free of this inner fear. Instead they prefer to stay with the familiar and to lead a ritualized or habitual life.

The routine and ritual behaviour to which people often cling out of a desire for at least some certainty in a world full of uncertainties, has a conservative if not reactionary bent to it i.e. when aborting possibilities to change. Already Hume recognized that 'habits can make people become sovereign'. It is an economy of governance once people rule themselves almost unconsciously by merely following habits. Here the Conservatives are only too happy if they would restrict their life to the bare essentials of having a job, schools for their children and a secure, equally comfortable life, whilst leaving the rest of governance to an elite. Such a ritualized life would diminish greatly the political experiences of people.. They are made only if they participate in the decision-making process itself. As is the case, ‘freedom to decide’ is reduced within such a system of habits and Conservative governance to people having mere ‘consumer choice’ - while no one notices this 'poverty of experience' as expressed in a general anti-political attitude. The latter is due to an apolitical adaptation to a system of conformity in a society lacking in human solidarity.

The problems of poverty and social exclusion cannot be resolved within such a system. It lacks a cultural policy to give space for open discussions and to encourage participation. But to discuss problems thereof, the precondition to know the solution beforehand would have to be dropped. Also a learning out of experience would require a clear ethical basis and a 'public-ness', as defined by Jürgen Habermas, if practical discourse is to show a way out of 'poverty of experience' 3 The philosopher Bart Verschaffel would add that in such a case 'public truth and public space' have to be interlinked. It would allow for a cultural development, in which one's own opinion can be questioned in public by others as part of the democratic process never self-understood. 4

Since public debate has to be linked to the making of law to give power to the decision to be implemented, it should be experienced not as an imposing, but as a highly creative process. That depends on how the practical agenda is shaped. It starts with mediating between future goals and past experiences, in order to know what can be done in the present. Being present is a prime condition which needs to be met, if the making of experiences – Jean Paul Sartre refers here to 'le vécu', or the experiences lived-through – is to become an integral part of active memory work. The latter is a precondition to remain differentiated in judgement and to go beyond all kinds of Reductionism (over simplification by means of overt images or too simple categorizations).

S. Freud, in describing the memory track, mentions that the emotional self can only be experienced by stepping outside the system and into the feelings as they come up e.g. very much like making sure one remembers how to get back to the railway station from which one started out to explore a new city. The memory track is needed, as only experiences made over time can validate practical knowledge about what works. It leads on to knowing how social and political demands can be made whilst being at all times accountable and capable of doing responsible work. Consequently, this cultural dimension has to be based on ethics, in order to give content to political experiences i.e. related to real needs of people. As a woman wrote after March 11th in Japan, real happiness can only be shared with real people – not corporations. The latter have been made by the system as if real persons and thus they falsify interests..

Unfortunately 'learning by experience' is not implied by the EU vision for 2020 with its orientation towards an 'economy of experience'. Even the advice given by KEA to take more into account the link between creativity and cultural diversity is not followed up. Instead, the EU Commission reinforces technically induced experiences and follows up what Bertrand Russell observed already during First World War. Then, the experience was made that technology means power over people. The technological factor of power has been refined ever since. Insofar as the EU Commission does not take culture into consideration to narrate human experiences, and prefers technologically enriched experiences, then not people but corporations are empowered for the sake of profits. 5

Given that the cultural aspect of poverty is so important, it explains why an abstract economic model working with indicators cannot offer any solutions to poverty and social exclusion. The latter is an outcome of an inbuilt injustice in the system. Only by entering a truly cultural process to make it home in Europe, practical solutions could be found at all levels. It would let contradictions be worked out within a European society seeking justice i.e. economic, social, political and cultural cohesion.

Yet before getting involved in an endless dispute about values, it should be noted that there exists, besides the poverty resulting from material deprivation, this wide-spread 'poverty of experience'. It is a short-coming of the system for it deprives people to link their experiences with a political process needed to sustain democratic practices in all walks of life..

Already observations about someone constantly playing games can explain how deprivation from real experiences can be brought about. Playing games without taking any commitment seriously drains the persons involved of any real experiences. This loss leaves the person without any orientation towards reality and, even more seriously, in having in the end few, if any, friends or human relations on whom to rely. Without such a qualitative certainty in life itself, no experience counts and none can be made to go on further. The person is simply trapped in a kind of social vacuum and will only be able to interact with others in a ritual, equally systematic and logical way.

A negative culture prevails in a society, if empty of human and social experiences; life shall be marked not primarily by poverty as such, but mostly by a 'poverty of experience'. It entails five different levels:

  1. Lack of experiences creates clusters of people with a similar background; together they prevent each other from finding suitable jobs and rather than overcoming exclusion, they pull each other down to end up in ghetto-like circumstances. Unable to bridge the gap between what they seem to know and what society seems to need or seek in terms of jobs provided, experiences demanded as a precondition to get the job seem out of reach. Hence experience becomes a both a barrier and a paradox for job seekers or for the unemployed - but how to have the experience, if the chance to do the job is never given?

  2. In terms of cultural link, experiences gained through a job are needed to make all kinds of social contacts. Above all, reaffirmation of the self vis-á-vis others is needed, in order to have a minimum of self-confidence. Altogether a new 'literacy' is demanded, in order to cope within such a digitalized system. Without it, the person cannot connect with others. Moreover, any job can only be kept, if ever more social and personal experiences are made. It allows to face new challenges, criticisms and even aggressions of others. Often those without experience to defend themselves, i.e. without self esteem, lose out in social conflicts; either they quit or are fired. Since this literacy relies as well on being able to talk about problems with others, experiences of such openness is required, otherwise it creates but fear. Also, further going experiences (e.g. further studies, but also travel) are essential, and only acquired when time is not wasted but learning is continued. Too often all those who do not make any 'valuable' experiences end up in self-isolation and despair. They are like the unemployed depicted by Vincent Van Gogh, namely as those who stare into half-empty glasses whilst the waiter, dressed in white, appears at their tables as if a butcher of time. They are forgotten as no one makes any further cultural investments in them.

  3. 'Poverty of experience' pertains not merely to poor people. Very rich people – but also of the middle and lower class - can equally suffer under the same phenomenon as the 'poor folk' and, even worse, end with all kinds of unspoken of pain due to a lack of human experiences. They end up living in a 'poverty of experience' revealed by becoming disinterested in other people. This is indicated above all on how they comment about others – mostly negative despite not knowing them. Out of a lack of social contact and direct experience, they judge others according to only symbols and images. By not wishing to question their presumptions – the making of prejudices and their transformations into absolute convictions – they also take recourse to stereotypical images, in order to diminish the value of others. Due to this they alienate themselves from life and remain without experiences. More and more they feel to be both winners and victims of the system. Due to a lack in basic human experience, they mistrust only others. Also they risk falling by the wayside of society as developments speed up. By not participating in activities with others, they become increasingly unable to keep up with all the changes.

  4. Not experiences but mainly fear guides many lives, in particular the fear to end up as a failure. That sense is sharpened by the 'cutting edge' of success. As an add for the New York University in Athens, Greece suggests 'the world is full of challenges and only few shall survive!' Subsequently many end up in a particular silence – one which should silence their fears but instead leaves the few experiences they make without language, or means to tell to others. In their fear to become a failure, they tend to reinforce their failures and loose out in empathy for others. They have lost above all the ability to make experiences out of fear to make mistakes. This can explain why those silenced by their own fears end up becoming at times most dangerous to society. The 'radical losers' - as described by Hans Magnus Enzensberger – end up like the one shooting in Norway 68 youth out of a hate-fear of society no longer being purely Norwegian - an act out of absolute desperation. These awesome actions are meant to take down with them as many lives as possible just to prove that not only they are losers, but the whole of society – one which could not safeguard these lives. Thus 'poverty of experience' relates to loss of human and social relationships with others. Social exclusion begins, and is above all, cemented by the loss of a meaningful love relationship. Many young men who end by going on a shooting spree feel the ‘last straw’ has been for them when the girl they like rejects them.

  5. At societal level, new experiences with others are only to be made if a friendly attitude towards the world prevails (E. Cassirer) and if basic trust in other people exists. Without that society would be determined solely by a 'poverty of experience', and be deprived of the cultural development everyone needs so badly, if to bring about literacy by linking creativity with productivity, and this within a human language allowing for human self-consciousness to prevail. Only when communication is open to others, then deeper cultural experiences can be made. Yet the very absence of the narrative, or as Michael D. Higgins would say the missing out on multiple stories, indicates this lack of experiences. Like rivers drying out, human communication will then be reduced to transmitting mere images and symbols. But without real experiences of the others, and without openness to new ideas, such a society would shut itself off from the world. Instead of friendliness towards others, xenophobic forces would reinforce the exclusion of others. As to the kinds of experiences still to be made in a closed society, they would not be deep enough to further substantial human contacts with others. Instead, a ‘pseudo’ kind of commonality would prevail such as rallying around the national flag or else just attending football matches. It can be classified as a kind of mass conformity and uniformity reproduced by all kinds of distraction, but with no substantial experiences being made to counter-balancing the loss of human reality. There will be lost the crucial access to the stream of humanity – a river feeding the deeper self-understanding of mankind.

The consequences of failing to invest in culture can be deduced from 'poverty of experience' existing. It is an outcome of a culture of deprivation. Altogether it means that the 'human voice' is not heard. A humane culture begins to exist once everyone is capable of addressing the self of the other(s) in a language recognizing the other as human being. It enriches the self-understanding, allows culture to be shared and the 'voice of reason' to be heard. The latter is crucial for making political decisions as it has far reaching consequences for what lies ahead, i.e. whether to go to war or not.

Living in 'poverty of experience' means to risk listening everyday only to bad advice or, even worse, to accept blindly 'public lies' used to justify bad decisions. This is because no one would be able to question the proposed decision in time. Moreover, it would be impossible to question the false reason given to justify the decision. Such was the case when Colin Powell, the Secretary of State under President Bush, testified to the Security Council of the United Nations. He claimed at that time to have absolute proof that Saddam Hussein was in possession of 'weapons of mass destruction'. That was a crucial testimony since it became the reason to justify the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. It turned out to be a lie, and Colin Powell admitted it himself once out of office, but by then it was too late to stop the invasion. The war in Iraq has become by now another fateful case in history. It serves as a negative example that mankind fails repeatedly when it comes to prevent the going to war. It underlines the failure to learn out of experience made throughout history even though wars serve no purpose and can never be justified.

This example illustrates yet a further point. 'Poverty of experience' means that people have yet to find effective counter-measures to the repeated use of the public lie, otherwise known as public diplomacy or out rightly just another from of propaganda. In the age of the Internet and other media, it could be expected that people are much better informed, but instead the world is dominated by images and manipulated information. It has replaced validated knowledge, while political experiences no longer counts. Manipulation of information as practised by modern media (Murdoch, Fox News, Berlusconi) leads according to Jürgen Habermas to a pathology of communication.

In policy terms, the European Commission must overcome still another variation of 'poverty of experience'. Unfortunately economic policy has been reduced to mere fiscal and monetary measures. Everything possible is done to safeguard the value of money, and, more importantly, to retain its purchasing power. In normal times, it was a simple aim to let just money circulate, in order to keep the economy going. For that to happen, the consumption level would need to stay high enough to spur further economic growth. Due to having adopted such a policy, no more experiences were made in other policy endeavours as had been advised, for example, by John Maynard Keynes. By following the Milton Friedman theory that only life-time income counts for consumers to spend their money, the consequence has been a disaster in terms of economic policy. For no political experiences with other policy tools have been made since adoption of such an approach. Relying solely on interests rates to affect life incomes, it played into the hands of financial markets and furthered only speculations with hedge funds and the like – while not touching off-shore companies and other areas used for money laundering nor how pension funds were misused to spur the housing market not in the UK, but in Spain. Only making money counted.

By diminishing responsible governance to mere formal procedures, the need for political conceptualization as related to 'contents' of relevant work is marginalized. That amounts to an overall failure to materialise cultural forms for working together. Competition between workers, not companies negates freedom to work together with pay. Since that is linked to recognitions on how to exist together, it says a lot if no concepts are articulated to identify tasks in need to be done. Moreover work is not merely an economic, but also a cultural matter. By leaving out the latter, the European Commission fails to make proper allocation of resources and misses out on vital experiences. Even more critical is that the EU Commission and member states do not recognize the overall cultural adaptation needs of European society – leaving Merkel to chide the Greeks for being too lazy i.e. not working enough, and as such an example of a gross misunderstanding of the other(s) within the European Union.

While EU projects emphasize 'exchange of experiences' in order to bring member states together, at political level two developments off-set this. For one, decision by means of the open method of co-operation has no real binding power. Secondly, most of its programmes have been re-nationalised while many more intermediate management and technical coordination authorities have been installed to ensure a kind of pseudo-control of finances - independent and divorced completely from the real project. Learning in progress no longer counts, only measurable outcomes. In the end, such an administrative system deprives the European Commission from chances to stay in dialogue with the projects as they unfold. Rather a kind of privatisation or externalisation of bureaucracy has come into existence to overcome possible obstacles. With everyone involved in such a complex process, no wonder when main experiences are reduced to writing just reports. It comes down to a pseudo-engagement for the sake of getting EU funds.

Louis Baeck pointed out that, for every economy, culture matters. He made this explicit when considering the difference between the Mediterranean and Atlantic traditions. Whilst the former integrates the economy into culture and lets the 'household' decide what is best, the Atlantic tradition separates the economy from culture6. and lets the private sector, irrespective of all cultural implications, decide what is in the best for the company and not for society. Due to such separation the EU follows an ill-conceived and unfair policy and programme direction. By favouring only economic, equal private interests, the European Union misses out on real experiences since they are communicated through culture(s). But without a viable link between economy and culture, life will be determined negatively – a life marked by 'poverty of experience'..

Altogether 'poverty of experience' seems to determine European development as no real discourse takes place. Instead recent European debates reveal themselves as fake public consultation processes. This was the case when the future of European Capitals of Culture was to be discussed in Brussels March 2011. Participants were reduced by the moderator of the Commission to school children who would be admonished by him if trying to respond to others or touch upon real issues. Instead mere symbolic declarations were preferred. It seems that a post Socialist propaganda like style as advocated by Wim Wender, in order to make the image of Europe look good, is at work.

As to European Capitals of Culture, Bob Palmer warned at the 25 year celebration of this European project initiated by Melina Mercouri, that they risked succumbing to spin doctors when delivering their final reports. It indicates a dependency on a pseudo-success when, in fact, real experience speaks quite another language. Therefore, it should be made clear that not just any activity in the name of culture will do! For only once a culture is based on thoughtful openness needed for evaluation of what has been achieved, what not, only then there can emerge out of cultural experiences made something to go on!

'Poverty of experience' as a cultural problem has yet to be recognised. So far it has not been adopted as a major programme point by any of the newer European Capitals of Culture. Consequently, only few contributions to culture as a ‘lived-through’ experience have been made e.g. Antwerp '93 treatment of culture as doubt or Cork 2005 giving people self confidence to face greater challenges. However, with regards to Linz 2009, no worthwhile experience seems to remain on which to base future cultural development. As to Liverpool 2008, the mega projects left hardly any imprint. More authentic experiences were had in a theatre not funded by the official programme and where the audiences created themselves - a transformed audience joining in when the actors on stage started to sing their songs. Indeed, only when experiences remembered by the arts become multiple stories, then Europe lives on through its diverse cultures.

It is well known that European Capitals of Culture have the means and potential to enhance cultural experiences. Yet there is a tendency not to invest in culture, but rather to use culture to make long-waited types of urban intervention. It may restore cultural heritage and beautify certain areas, but can lead to gentrification – negative urban experiences, as the case with Istanbul 2010. It pits the rich interested in new art venues against the poor who had been living in neglected places under quite different conditions. Equally cultural industries have yet to become the driving force for a new economy - able to provide people with new jobs and the means to integrate themselves into the society in the making. But the real test for European Capitals of Culture is to overcome neglect of culture by economic forces. Only if that succeeds, then there will be a chance to give not only a city and its people space to breathe and to experience life, but also - to Europe - another, more optimistic outlook as to what lies ahead.


There is, of course, another way of explaining 'poverty of experience'. Once corruption is involved and, therefore, no honest effort possible, then experiences made by the arts and culture do not count. And without ethics, no creative process shall emerge to take human experiences further. Instead, cultural events shall be reduced to mere fake performances or artificially induced experiences, but which last only as long as fireworks light up the night sky

Athens 2.7.2011


Baeck, Louis (1994), “Mediterranean Economic Thought and Atlantic Economics“. Source: http://poieinkaiprattein.org/economy/position-papers-2/mediterranean-economic-thought-and-atlantic-economics-by-louis-baeck-1994/

Baeck,Louis (2010), “Standpunt“. Source: http://poieinkaiprattein.org/economy/position-papers-2/standpunt-by-louis-baeck-2010/

Boswijk, A. A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMYMeaningful Experiences ...The European Centre for the Experience Economy, The Netherlands. www.experience-economy.com/wp-content/.../Article%20Lapland5

Enzensberger, Hans Magnus (2006). Schreckens Männer – Versuch über den radikalen Verlierer. Frankfurt a. Main: Suhrkamp

European Commission (2010). Green paper on 'Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries'. Source: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/our-policy-development/doc2577_en.htm

Habermas, Jürgen (2008). Ach, Europa. Frankfurt a. Main: Suhrkamp

Kern, Philippe (2011) „Cultural Diversity and EU 2020“ - Presentation by Philippe Kern at EU Observer Conference 26.01.2011. Source: www.keanet.eu

Verschaffel, Bart (2005)'Public Truth and Public Space'. Source:http://poieinkaiprattein.org/philosophy/public-truth-and-public-space-by-bart-verschaffel/


Appendix I: Some facts about poverty and social exclusion in 2010

Following facts were cited by the EU Commission to justify why 2010 was designated as year in which to combat 'poverty and social exclusion':

79 million people live below the poverty line (set at 60% of their country's median income). That represents 16% of Europe's population.

One European in ten lives in a household where nobody works. Even so, work does not always guard effectively against the risk of poverty.

For 8% of Europeans, having a job is not enough to work one's way out of poverty.

In most Member States, children are more exposed to this scourge than the rest of the population: 19% of children live under the threat of poverty; 19 million children are affected.

Source: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=637

The risk factor

The risk factor is used to measure poverty by a set of common indicators; people are judged to be at risk if their income is below 60% of the national median level. In absolutes terms, average incomes vary widely from one Member State to another, as does the proportion of the population at risk of poverty. It reveals EU economic divergence.

Source: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=637

In a city such as Leipzig, up to 25% of the city's population, that is one in every four people, is at risk of ending up poor.

Eurozone unemployment in 2011

The May increase in unemployment pushed the numbers out of work up to 15.51 million, the European Union's statistics office Eurostat said. However, the jobless rate remained unchanged at a near two-year low of 9.9 per cent.

After Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain entered the eurozone debt crisis.

Ireland's unemployment rate came in unchanged at 14 per cent in May, the jobless rate in Portugal stood at 12.4 per cent.

In Greece unemployment stood at 15 % and a youth unemployment at 40 tp 45%

Source: 1 July 2011 http://www.iol.co.za/business/international/eurozone-unemployment-rises-1.1092195

Long term unemployment

In the UK, long-term unemployment is up by 8% in 2011. It is said that every month out of work will increase the likelihood of not finding any job at all, so creating a vicious cycle.





1Louis Baeck, Standpunt, at: http://poieinkaiprattein.org/economy/position-papers-2/standpunt-by-louis-baeck-2010/

2 In the Green paper on 'Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries' published by the EU Commission in 2010, it is argued that "in this new digital economy, immaterial value increasingly determines material value, as consumers are looking for new and enriching 'experiences'. The ability to create social experiences and networking is now a factor of competitiveness." Source: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/our-policy-development/doc2577_en.htm

3See especially the third chapter 'Zur Vernunft der Öffentlichkeit' ('To the reason of publicness'') in: Jürgen Habermas, Ach, Europa, p. 131 - 191

4Bart Verschaffel, 'Public Truth and Public Space'. Source: http://poieinkaiprattein.org/philosophy/public-truth-and-public-space-by-bart-verschaffel/

5 Philippe Kern, „Cultural Diversity and EU 2020“ - Presentation Philippe Kern at EU Observer Conference 26.01.2011.Source: www.keanet.eu

6Louis Baeck, (1994), „Mediterranean Economic Thought and Altlantic Economics“. See: http://poieinkaiprattein.org/economy/position-papers-2/mediterranean-economic-thought-and-atlantic-economics-by-louis-baeck-1994/

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