What do European societies look like, at the end of a turbulent millennium which saw western Europe slowly rise to global domination, and then rapidly decline to its present position, prosperous but clearly behind the USA in world influence? This is the only book by a single sociologist to make a systematic and up to date comparison of virtually all west European countries across a wide range of social institutions. These include: work and occupations, the structure of the economy, the family, education, religion, nationality and ethnicity, and the mechanism of citizenship in the welfare state. Particular emphasis is placed on the place of gender and social class. By including basic details on Japan and the United States throughout, the author is able to draw attention to any shared west European specificities. The book also develops a theory of change in contemporary societies. Starting from a model of a mid-century social compromise based on certain balances between industrialism, capitalism, traditional community institutions, and community it traces its subsequent destabilization and places particular importance on the resurgence of capitalism in shaping a new social order. This important new study of the social structure of western Europe will be essential reading for all students of comparative sociology and European sociology.