are in the MOST Phase I website (1994-2003).
The MOST Phase II website is available at: www.unesco.org/shs/most.
Management of Social Transformations
21-25 November 1994
The ideas and opinions expressed in this report are not necessarily those of UNESCO and do not commit the Organization.
ANNEX I: List of Participants
PROAP Office, Bangkok Thailand, 21-25 November 1994
This four day Conference was attended by over 60 participants from 22 countries of the Asian region (*). Discussion was centred around the 3 MOST Programme areas of : 1) multi-cultural and multi-ethnic societies; 2) cities and urbanisation and 3) local-global. An additional panel discussion on HIV/AIDS was included in the Conference, given the relevance of the disease and its social and economic impact world-wide.
The objective of this Conference was to map out research and knowledge gaps in the programme areas, as they pertain to the Asian region. Such discussion was led by participants who had been invited to prepare papers for this purpose. The principal points of the discussions are revealed below:
(*) A separate sub-regional conference for the Pacific Island States was held in Sydney, 28-29 April 1995
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Panel 1: Multi-cultural and multi-ethnic societies and poverty
Emerging from the discussion was the conviction that a major research and knowledge gap in this area is on the relationship between the State and the people. This relates to the problem of governance, where governments have difficulty managing ethnic and other identity communities: while inter-State conflicts have diminished, conflicts between the State and the people have increased. At the heart of the inability to manage within-State conflicts would be a flawed model of governance, a model based on the expansion of State Power at the expense of civil society. Alternative models of governance need to be developed and in this respect a voyage through history, with a critical eye to former modes of governance, and periods of peaceful co-operation can be particularly instructive. In many South Asian countries in the past, the model of governance was based more on an absence of centralised rule and on a model of decentralised economic policy. New models of governance will require a reversal of the traditional Marxist analysis of the relationship between economy and society where the former dictates the latter and an acceptance of the thesis that the economy must be shaped by the social needs of society rather than the reverse. Analyses of alternative forms of governance and a modified relationship between economy and society must also consider how the collapse of ecological systems and the overuse of natural resources are linked to managing ethnicities and cultures. This leads to unanswered questions, such as how social needs can be fulfilled and relates to the notion of sustainable development, the need for a re-examination of the classical model of development, new methods for the alleviation of poverty and a new social contract between the State and the poor.
The MOST Programme can bring some form of coherence into the task of forging an alternative model of development that examines cultures and religions and identifies those commonalties at the bases of traditionalism cultural models such as Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism, etc., and how those commonalties can be made productive in forging out a new social contract between the State and society. Much has already been done on poverty and on the relationship between political structures and poverty alleviation programmes. A review of what poverty alleviation programmes are about, where they were successful, where not, and why would be a relevant contribution of the programme to poverty research and policy formulation.
Aside from the issues of poverty alleviation, of a new development model and of a redefinition of the relationship between the state and the poor, the issue of migration arose as a major theme in this discussion.
The ethnic/cultural landscape in South Asia is radically changing with migration, which provokes the idea that South Asia is increasingly multi-cultural. However the notions of multi-culturalism, multi-ethnicity and cultural pluralism require delineation and reflection. It is not because people from different ethnic groups live together that there is multi-culturalism; multi-culturalism is the way people live together and public policy on multi-culturalism is a determinant of the nature - peaceful or violent - of the way people co-habit. Research is required to study how the ethnic/cultural landscape is changing with immigration.
There are three underlying paradigms in migration theory. The first is the economisitic /neo-classical perspective which explains migration as labour movement responding to a supply/demand relationship which is dictated by the market. Hence, no State intervention is required as the migratory flow is a response to economic forces. The second is a political economic Marxist approach which views immigration as a form of capitalism. The third is a migration systems approach which suggests that migration cannot be studied without considering it as a product of investment capital and commodities.
What is lacking in migration study, at least in South Asia, is the need to look at the political economy, State policies and laws of migration as well as the social networks that develop among migrations, their process of social and psychological adaptation and the role of the families in these processes. One important observation is that migrations are led by the social network factors regardless of migratory laws. The economy itself also functions as a social process since economies are dependent on migrant labour, and the process becomes self sustaining. The negative consequences of labour migration can now be seen in Germany, France and Britain. The question then arises of why some Democratic States turned ethnic/newcomers into separate groups or outsiders, while other States have successfully made them into citizens. What kind of policies lead to their incorporation, and what kind lead to separation?
Long-term planning is required to look at the social consequences of migration. By adopting a future-oriented, long-term perspective, the problems facing several European countries engendered by lack of planning could be avoided. The traditional economistic and legalistic approach to the study of migration is insufficient in such planning.
Within MOST, the role of shifting ideologies and their impact on modalities of social transformations in Asia require study. This can be seen in Vietnam, China and other Asian countries. In this respect, a further knowledge gap is how ideological divisions observed in North/South Korea and formerly in Vietnam influences social transformation.
Regarding the methodological aspect of any MOST project, it was mentioned that the project should be comparative and not based on a series of national case studies that are conducted in parallel fashion. A truly comparative base for the project means that issues such as similarity, uniqueness and transfer of experience must be reflected upon. This also requires consideration of concepts, such as the term ethnicity, cultural pluralism, multi-culturalism, and the subtle differences in meaning attributed to these terms by people from different cultures, backgrounds traditions and experiences. Although multi-culturalism is currently in the intellectual and political limelights, the concept is not new.
For example, American society has moved from a melting pot ideology to a salad bowl ideology. One question to be now asked is: in the face of globalization and ruthless competition among nations, does multi-culturalism have a chance of success in this age of globalization?
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Panel 2: The Socio-economic effects of HIV/AIDS
There were two presentations in this panel, the first by a representative of UNDP and the second by a representative of UNICEF. The dramatic consequences of HIV/AIDS in Asia is leading these agencies to suggest that the impact of AIDS be a part of all research topics undertaken in the region within MOST, and be considered in the planning of all development projects. One of the most problematic outcomes of AIDS in Asia is the effect on the income of the households and the subsequent alternative forms of income that are adopted once an adult member dies of the disease. In most cases, children are taken out of school to work to compensate for the loss of income. Women children are taken out of school to care for the ailing household member.
According to UNDP, one of the principal differences between AIDS related deaths and other adult deaths is the devastatingly cumulative effect of AIDS: if 1 adult dies from the disease there is a high probability that the other partner is also infected. AIDS then becomes one of the principal causes of the increase in orphans. A second characteristic of the disease is the stigma attached to it that weakens normal community coping methods. Once a family uncovers that a member has the disease, there is a tendency to keep it a secret, and not to seek community support. In Thailand, families break up, people get ostracised, children are taken out of school and businesses of AIDS infected people get boycotted and collapse. The social transformations engendered by the disease are therefore very important and consequential and all sectors of society and not only the health sector.
One important problem linked to HIV/AIDS is government support programmes. The instinctive response is to say that someone with HIV is not a good credit risk; insurance companies now have a standard clause saying that in the case of HIV/AIDS death they are not responsible for insurance payments. In terms of educational policies, what is to be done with a teacher infected by the disease. Should he or she be taken out of the classroom and prevented from the right to work? The absenteeism of teachers infected by the disease is mirrored by increasing absenteeism of children who become substitute labour for infected parents. A further repercussion of the disease is the increasing number of younger marriages, particularly in Africa. Men are looking for non-infected women, and in this search are marrying increasingly young women.
A further question requiring urgent attention is the extent planning and development programmes are going to be different as a result of HIV/AIDS. The effect of the disease is given inadequate attention in development planning. For example, there are now, thanks to international development construction projects, 9 border crossings in the golden triangle area of Myanmar, Northern Thailand and Southern China and Laos. This leads to a huge increase in transportation which is likely to have significant impact on the spread of HIV/AIDS. This road construction, financed by the Bretton Woods institutions has created mass migration of young men mobilised as construction workers, which in turn has created a market of prostitution, increased drug use and rampant spread of the disease - How can consideration of the impact of AIDS be included in all development activities? The World Bank and IMF are promoting construction/infrastructure building roads and dams that bring in temporarily single men in huge numbers. The impact of donor-funded programs on HIV transmission is an urgent policy-research area that MOST could address. Already the impact of HIV/AIDS on development projects is leading Swedish SIDA in Africa to train twice as many middle-level officials because they assume that 50% will die from the disease. What other consequences exist and how can they be considered in development activities?.
Other research policy issues to be addressed in anticipation of the impact of the disease include the following:
1. Identify the kinds of data - micro/macro that need to be collected to identify whether there are trends, or whether there is an impact of the disease (i.e. drop-out rates in schools).
2. Monitor results of preventive aids education programmes (i.e. the need to look at behaviour, values, etc. and not simply bio-medical facts).
3. Examine what the impact of AIDS in a community really looks like. In Thailand, for example, this impact may not be the same as in Uganda. Do AIDS orphans in Thailand face similar community acceptance or rejection than Ugandan orphans or are there community/cultural differences?
4. Discuss the controversial issue of mandatory testing of HIV, which is value loaded and which has serious ethical dimensions centred on the issue of individual rights versus the rights of the community. An ethically correct balance must be found. Also the question must be asked that if mandatory testing is implemented, how is society to deal with the infected people? For the moment, there is no treatment for HIV - all that can be done is to advise people. Therefore should people be identified as HIV + when there is nothing that can be done for them? There is a need to balance the danger that can be done to HIV/AIDS infect people in a society which does not accept them. Gender education is required - how people approach gender issues. This is not necessarily the issue of increased education for women. The issue is a rethinking of the approach to gender issues and gender interaction. In many parts of the world, this is more important than sex education. According to UNDP, UNICEF and many of the experts of the meeting, what is required is education in gender roles, gender equalities and gender interaction. According to UNDP, MOST can try to understand the costs and benefits of different approaches and policies developed for coping with the disease. What do communities cost at the expense of the individual and what do individuals cost at the expense of the communities?
There is an urgent need to open up the issue of AIDS to examine the impact of the disease on sectors other than health. AIDS should be examined as a social development issue. The current attitude among policy planners is that AIDS is a health problem, and is therefore related to that sector. However all service sectors, from education to industry, transport and communication are directly or indirectly affected by the spread of the disease and such impacts require more research and study.
Always to be remembered is that AIDS is a great identifier and exploiter of vulnerability.
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Panel 3: Coping locally and regionally with technological, economic and environmental transformations.
There was general agreement in the Conference that this theme was too large for any single research programme, and that it could be divided into three areas, namely technology, economics and environment impacts. The global/local impacts in the Asia-Pacific region could be explored within each of these three areas. (i.e. coping strategies at the macro and micro levels in response to the social transformations, including acceptance, resistance and management of the transformations. Stressed as requiring research was the impact and role of the introduction of new technologies. Possible research themes in this programme area could be: the political context of the social transformations and how the power dimension is managed; the resulting distribution of resources involving questions of social justice and equity; the empowerment of communities (in the face of globalisation); the impact on traditional values; the information, education and training consequences; and, the factors of social sustainability in the face of these social transformations.
The session began to focus more clearly on the difficulties arising from globalisation on the one hand, and localisation on the other. In this context, globalisation represented internationalisation of finance, communication and deregulation of trade and the market place. A further issue revolved around the tension between the universalistic and homogeneous aspects of globalisation and the uniqueness of local cultures. There was considerable recognition of how globalisation was requiring huge economic adjustments and whether all transactions should be transferred to the market. It was noted that globalisation if not managed carefully would lead to a new dual society with increasing inequalities among different social strata. Moreover, globalisation was occurring when most of the developing world societies is lacking in civil society and a strong public sector, acting as a regulatory agent between shrinking governments and expanding markets. Lack of civil society and a strong public sector pointed to weaknesses of social participation in different domains, vital and urgent at a time of growing globalisation. Thus, a very important step toward sustainable development was massive public awareness and social participation in different social settings.
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Panel 4: Cities - Urbanisation in Asia
The specific problems of urbanisation in Asia differ with the level and type of development attained in the country. For example, in China there are two phenomena associated with urbanisation: the movement from rural to urban areas, and its social, economic and political implications in urban zones including rising crime; and the shift from state planning economic system to a market economic system. What is needed in China is a rational distribution of social justice to alleviate the gap between rural/urban children and adults. One of the major problems with urbanisation is that people are moving out of the rural areas. These migrant people are not just surplus labour, but are also women and children. This raises the issue of who will do the rural agricultural production, in China and the country will have a food problem if this rural-urban migratory trend continues.
Interviews in China showed that people have a new consciousness of their poverty and this is why they want to leave the land. Of course, urban areas cannot absorb all the people from rural areas. However rural workers migrating to urban areas could not enjoy the benefits of urban dwellers such as social welfare, housing, education and food. How can a just social distribution be found for income, employment, drinking water, housing, and health. Is it a problem of the State or should it be left to the market? Can some middle ground be found through community and participatory development? An important area of study in Asia therefore is the impact of migration on settlement patterns, employment, women and public services. Deeper understanding is also required of the nature of labour segmentation which occurs when migrants come to urban areas. In looking at sustainable development, the effects of GATT, APEC and AFTA on the Asia-Pacific region must be examined in terms of structural and economic changes.
The global economy materialises in very concrete processes and places, particularly in major cities. Economic globalization as a dominant narrative is a partial account that has important political and social implications. Such globalisation is the result of a set of very powerful economic actors whose actions are not necessarily positive for different sectors of society. This economic globalization also raises questions of the declining significance of the State. Major challenges facing the State are how to get the vast concentration of resources embedded in cities to be somewhat reoriented. The State must be given the capacity to address equity questions and to govern economic processes. Currently, the State is powerless in face of the hyper-mobility of capital and in face of transnational corporations. How can the power of the State be re-regulated and how can it be reempowered and given an agenda that is different from the agenda of the private sector?
In a 1993 ESCAP meeting, a long list of urban research priorities was established. Countries in South Asia and China are undergoing the greatest rate of urbanisation while being among the poorest countries in the region. There is a need for infrastructure and provision of social services. In the newly industrialised countries such as Bangkok the driving dilemma is how to deal with environmental consequences of rapid industrialisation. Adaptive research is needed in China and Vietnam to show what works in free market countries and how to adapt to local cultural and political situations. Rapid economic growth in the region is being paralleled by increasing poverty.
There is tremendous financial and technical support in the Asia-Pacific region, however industrialisation and urbanisation processes and their social and economic implications are important and require the support of richer countries. Research is also required on the effects of regionalization of the economy on the urban areas. In any case, preventive thinking is necessary to consider those problems which can arise. This future thinking can be a strong area of UNDP/MOST co-operation. One product of urbanisation is the very strong growth of a middle class who are trend seeking people with western values.
Urbanisation is attended by massive poverty. This process of emiseration has existed in Australia as well as in industrialised and non-industrialised countries. It is also accompanied by severe environmental degradation. Preoccupation with short-term economic consequences has led to unequal access to services, which exacerbates this problem of poverty. It would be possible in Australia, through the MOST programme, to identify a small number of programmes, legitimise them and then raise funds from other agencies. This would be in view of developing collaborative research programmes that are multi-disciplinary and which could certainly attract funds. A conference also would be organised in the frame-work of MOST on South east Asian Urbanisation, co-ordinated by an Australian research centre on urban studies. It could also be possible to establish within MOST a Federated PhD scheme on trans-disciplinary and transcultural problems where PhD students receive intensive training. as they move on a circuit of universities participating in the scheme.
Conclusions and Follow-Up
This Conference provided participants with a chance to express their views on filling the gaps in the areas of the MOST programme for the Asia region. Emerging from the Conference is a list of project proposals (one co-ordinated by Australia, the other by Sri Lanka) to be submitted to the MOST Scientific Steering Committee for evaluation in the June meeting.
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Conference participants (Annex I) adopted a series of recommendations (attached, Annex 2).
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
Ms. Siriwan Tanggriwong, RUSHSAP
Ms. Sarinya A. M. Sophia, RUSHSAP
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In the framework of the Management of Social Transformations programme (MOST), representatives from 21 Asian and Pacific countries and from international organizations participated in the Regional MOST Conference to discuss the research and policy priorities of the Asia and Pacific region. The MOST programme, designed by UNESCO, has the purpose to promote international, comparative, policy-relevant social science research. Its primary emphasis is to support large-scale, long-term autonomous research and to contribute the relevant findings and data to decision-makers in a participatory manner. The overall objective of MOST is to establish continuing links between the scientific and policy communities and to emphasize the relevance of social science research for policy-formulation.
The participants of the meeting recognized the timely nature of the objectives and themes of the MOST Programme for the study of the social transformations in the Asian region.
General Principles and Framework
1. MOST is to examine major issues of social transformations with the objective of designing equitable and sustainable development.
2. Policy-making can benefit strongly from scientific research that builds upon existing studies of both successful and unsuccessful development cases. It is a unique task for the MOST programme to generate policy-relevant advice in this respect.
3. The social sciences have the responsibility of demonstrating that social concerns are as important as economic analyses of social transformations.
4. The MOST programme should concentrate on the effects and consequences of globalization, taking into account local and national cultural and social specificities within the specific research areas of the programme.
5. The study of social transformations requires that new research be placed in its historical and cultural context. While making use of, and developing organizational capacity to bring together existing research and policy analyses, the MOST Programme must contribute to plotting new trajectories, evolving new perspectives and designing new categories in the study of social transformations.
6. MOST projects should include a capacity-building component involving the training of young researchers in problem formulation, and methods of data collection and analysis in the areas of the programme.
7. Migration is a priority issue among many countries of the Asia and Pacific region, both from the perspective of the sending and the receiving countries. The emphasis of the research undertaken so far in the Asia and Pacific region has been on the economic and control aspects of migration. One major knowledge gap is the long-term social, cultural and political implications of growing ethnic diversity arising from migratory trends. A comparative research project on such implications is to be pursued between countries in the Asia and Pacific region.
8. MOST projects should examine those factors which facilitate harmonious management of social transformations and social conflicts in multi-cultural and multi-ethnic societies.
9. A project should be established to undertake the follow-up of the July 1994 report of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Finance and Planning Ministers Conference. The strategy for poverty eradication in the SAARC Heads of State decision is also an " entry point " to poverty eradication in multi-cultural and multi-ethnic societies of South Asia and could lead to evolving a new social contract between the State and the poor and other vulnerable groups in the region.
10. It was emphasized that insufficient attention has been given to vulnerable groups in the study of social transformations, especially as social transformations affect them in several direct and indirect ways. It is encouraged that a MOST project in the Asia and Pacific region on gender and equity be elaborated with the United Nations University (UNU) - Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity (INCORE) programme.
11. The profound impact of health risks, with particular focus on the HIV/AIDS epidemic on social transformations constitutes a common research interest in the countries of the Asian region. It should also be stressed that the social transformations under study in the MOST programme have a strong impact on the development of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Work should be started in the framework of MOST, and in collaboration with UNDP and UNICEF, to elaborate on the reciprocal relationship between the HIV/AIDS epidemic and social transformations in the Asian region, in co-ordination with the existing UNESCO programme on education for AIDS. Given the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on social transformations, it is encouraged that this topic be taken into account in the MOST research projects in the Asian region.
12. States have the responsibility of ensuring human security and adequate provision of essential social services and fundamental rights. Action-oriented research in the MOST programme should devise recommendations that will help strengthen the Institutions of civil society.
13. A comparative research project on industrialization and the transition from agricultural to industrial production is to be elaborated in the Asia and Pacific region and its subregions. This project must recognize that such transitions may be nationally or culturally specific and that the relationship between economic and social development is to be examined.
14. Accelerated urbanization is a major characteristic of social transformations in the Asia and Pacific region. Research must address issues in the rural-urban continuum related to social, cultural, political and environmental degradation. An initiative should be undertaken to bring together urban researchers from different social science disciplines to establish a research agenda for the South-East Asian region.
Institutional arrangements for research in the Asia and Pacific region
15. Existing social science networks such as the Association of Development Research and Training Institutes of Asia and the Pacific (ADIPA), the Association of Asian Social Science Research Councils (AASSREC) and institutions such as UNU should be involved in MOST projects undertaken in the Asia and Pacific region. MOST research projects should also seek the participation of local and regional non-governmental organizations working in the areas of the research.
16. It is encouraged that further regional or sub-regional workshops be organized within the framework of MOST to pursue discussion on the entry points into the study of social transformations in the Asia and Pacific region.
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