Social vulnerability and new social inequalities The characteristics and dimensions of social risks are rapidly changing in Western European countries. The so-called European social model was founded on the association between permanent employment, stability in the division of roles within the family and the progressive extension of welfare guarantees. All these conditions seem to be lacking in contemporary society because of the greater job insecurity and the consequent discontinuity in incomes, the organisational tensions in the family and the inertia of the welfare system. Taken together these transformations are causing social vulnerability and affecting a substantial proportion of the middle classes. Four new social risks are identified in the article: the diffusion of income instability, the growth in temporary work, the difficulties in reconciling caring and working and the explosion of a dependent population determined by the ageing population. The notion of social vulnerability is then introduced to provide an understanding of the new nature of social risks. The possible impact on social inequality is therefore analyzed. Finally, possible implications for welfare policy are illustrated.