are in the MOST Phase I website (1994-2003).
The MOST Phase II website is available at: www.unesco.org/shs/most.
Policy Paper - No. 2
also available in French and in Spanish
From social exclusion to social cohesion, The Roskilde Symposium, 2-4 March 1995 (abstracts of the debates)
The need for a form of social accounting
The attitude of survival in a declared context of inevitable economic war
This being said the Social Summit
- a political forum where the search for a global consensus takes
precedence over the formulation of radical solutions - has not
always touched upon basic questions concerning the sources of
social problems, which affect, albeit in different ways, the South
as well as the North. If the plan of action laid out at Copenhagen
contains numerous proposals regarding social policies, it neglects
to mention others, particularly those which may call into question
current financial and macroeconomic policies. The social cost
of these policies is very high; they are nonetheless preferred
by the great powers and non-state agents which dominate and run
the world system. The Copenhagen plan of action does not mention
certain serious proposals that have been advanced in order to
finance social development on a world scale, such as the «Tobin
The preparation and deliberations of the Copenhagen Social Summit did not only mobilize governments. They also gave rise to an impressive number of activities, meetings, and publications on the part of the international and scientific community, NGOs, and the institutions of the United Nations, and which engendered a multitude of ideas and interesting proposals for action. A systematic analysis and evaluation of these proposals, as well as their wide dissemination, would be very useful and could serve to inspire the social policies of governments.
The international symposium at Roskilde, Denmark,
which was held 2-4 March l995 - on the eve of the Social Summit
- was part of this effort. One is, alas, obliged to call these
contributions «peripheral», since the Summits and Conferences
of the United Nations - which are undeniably important and useful
- have generally failed to provide adequate communication between
the groups that take part in them: governments, IGO s,
and the scientific community.
This symposium was significant on two levels. First of all, thanks to the quality of the participants and innovative character of the themes, the debates and the proposals they generated were highly interesting. Secondly, the symposium was jointly sponsored and organized by intergovernmental and scientific bodies: The «Management of Social Transformations» ( MOST ) programme of UNESCO , which initiated the meeting; the World Health Organization, including its «Healthy Cities» programme; the International Institute for Labour Studies ( IILS ) of the International Labour Organization ( ILO ); DG-XII - Science, Research and Development, of the Commission of the European Union, and in particular its programme «Targeted Socio-Economic Research» ( TSER ); ORSTOM (French Scientific Research Institute for Development and Cooperation); and the University of Roskilde.
We have deemed it useful to present a synthesis, which reflects both the richness of the debates and situates them in a larger context. It was written by Sophie Bessis, a specialist of development issues, which she studies both as a scholar and journalist. We warmly thank her for her collaboration.
Executive Secretary, MOST Director,
Division of Social Sciences, Research and policy
For three days the participants discussed and
debated the six themes on the agenda, seeking to elaborate upon
proposals liable to influence current policies of governments
and to help cope with the «social question». Before
reporting on these three fruitful days of discussion and debate,
we will first provide an overview of the themes around which the
symposium was organized.
Papers presented by Louis Emmerij, a special
adviser to the president of the Inter-American Development Bank;
Dr. Niels Meyer of the University of Denmark in Copenhagen; and
two researchers at the IILS, José de Figueiredo and Ajit
Bhalla, all argued that what one continues to call the global
crisis is more social in character than economic. This is expressed,
in effect, by the aggravation of inequalities between different
regions, as well as within countries - whether they are in the
North or the South - and by the steady deterioration in the quality
of life of those who find themselves excluded from organized labour
What can be done to reverse this tendency and
promote policies whose objective is to restore social justice?
Are decision-makers really ready to commit themselves to achieving
this goal? The conference participants were hardly able to answer
this question, though there was a consensus that no direct causal
link exists between economic growth and the solution of environmental
and social problems. They also agreed that the concept of exclusion
can help in under-standing the complexity of social processes
currently at work through-out the world in elaborating new proposals
for social policy.
They insisted that the choice of a durable
model of development would profoundly modify dominant ways of
life and modes of consumption. In effect, such a model implies
a reinforcing of citizenship and of solidarity networks, the elaboration
of new approaches to work capable of satisfying needs that the
market cannot meet, and a rethinking of the concepts of employment
and labour. It also presupposes a redefinition of the roles played
by the ensemble of economic and social actors. The participants
recognized that such a model of development will not be easily
accepted. They concluded, however, that only sustainable development
is capable of preventing the social apartheid and ecological disasters
which, if current trends hold, increasingly threaten the world.
Dr. Laura Balbo of the University of Ferrara,
Dr. Philippe Van Parijs of the Catholic University of Louvain,
and Dr. Bent Greve of the University of Roskilde each advanced
ideas as to how the welfare state may evolve without it having
to abandon its core principles. Dr. Mahdi Elmandjra of Mohammed
V University in Rabat raised questions about the possibilities
of taking into account social demands in the countries of the
South, given their lack of institutions devoted to maintaining
a social safety net. In any case, all the participants agreed
that social demands cannot be satisfied by narrow, sector-based
policies and that the elaboration of more holistic strategies
of development are urgently needed.
Trevor Hancock, a Canadian consultant in public
health, Dr. Kurt Nielsen of the University of Denmark in Copenhagen,
and Dr. Alberto Tarozzi of the University of Bologna observed
that the longstanding conflict between the state and market is
giving way to new forms of social organization that allow a greater
place for local initiatives and intermediate levels of decision-making.
The core debate of the session centred on the question as to how
participatory democracy can be reinforced without giving in to
sectoral interests and while, at the same time, preserving a certain
amount of centralized decision-making authority that is necessary
in every system.
Making cities livable means putting in place
urban development strategies that focus on the satisfaction of
ever-increasing needs in the areas of employment, housing, health
care, education, and preservation of the environment. As it was
emphasized, this ambitious programme presupposes a political will
- which is almost non- existent these days, in both the countries
of the North and the South - that attaches utmost concern to remedying
the urban crisis.
While hoping that the Copenhagen summit would take their proposals into consideration, they recognized that the Roskilde debates must fit in to a larger scheme of long-term reflection and action whose goal is to make social, i.e. human, issues a priority once again in national and global strategies, which have been characterized for the past two decades by a drift towards an economism whose ravages can be easily measured.
The seriousness of the problem explains why
officials and politicians are according such importance to the
social question. This is now the case on both the international
level and in the majority of countries. The search for solutions
to poverty is now top priority for the states of the international
community. This is why the United Nations was able to organize
the Copenhagen Social Summit in March 1995, which was attended
by some 120 heads of state and government. This unprecedented
level of interest indicates that top-level decision-makers are
indeed preoccupied with the social question. It does not guarantee,
however, that they will actually follow through and assign priority
to the social policies they are entrusted with elaborating and
putting into practice.
Situated in this context, the Roskilde symposium
debates went beyond the simple observation that the world is in
a state of deterioration. Differentiating itself from static approaches,
which only too often limit themselves to carrying out an inventory
of world poverty, the debates focused on the processes that generate
poverty. Among the concepts employed in the discussions were those
of social disintegration, exclusion, and pauperization. Structured
around these themes and the questions they raised, the debates
engendered proposals for reflection and action. They will be discussed
in the following pages.
1 , for at least another two decades. The signs that old arrangements are crumbling have been multiplying for a number of years.
This triumph has inaugurated - for the first time in the history of mankind - the reign of a pensée unique - of a single, acceptable way of viewing things - in the area of economics, which is considered by its proponents as being universally valid in both its premises and applications. According to Riccardo Petrella, economics «is prompted, guided, directed by a purpose that now takes precedence over all others. It is that of competitiveness (of the short-term, commercial brand in particular) that has become the only true objective - sold, propagated and defended - of the dominant economy of the 'Norths' of the planet.» 2 It is what Mahdi Elmandjra referred to as the new dictatorship of the West over a unipolar world, which has replaced the confrontation between the Western and Soviet blocs.
This evolution toward a globalized system cannot
help but have an impact on the forms of political organization
that have predominated throughout the world in modern times. In
relativizing the notion of borders, taking away from the state
some of its prerogatives and greatly reducing its margin for manoeuvre,
and consecrating the reign of global enterprises, the new global
system has led to a profound crisis of the nation-state, whose
authority is now increasingly challenged by the world market.
The nation-state is not only weakened by the generalized competition that all economies are now subjected to; it is also contested by the resurgence of particularistic identities, which represent a negative reaction to globalization by people who mainly witness and experience its negative effects. Falling back on national, ethnic, or religious affinities, those who agitate in favour of these exasperated expressions of identity - who are often deprived of the quality of citizenship - are unable to identify with the nation-state as it now presents itself.
The rapid population growth that the majority
of developing countries have experienced - and which continues
at an accelerated pace in sub-Saharan Africa and much of the Arab
world - certainly helps explain this increase in the size of the
labour market. But the aggravation of unemployment in the industrialized
countries shows that this problem is linked less to population
increase than the emergence of new technologies that require ever
less manpower. What some call the «second industrial revolution»
has been accompanied by gains in productivity such that it has
engendered an uncoupling of the relationship between labour and
production. For the second time in history, machines are replacing
people and economic growth is creating ever fewer jobs.
Exclusion from organized labour markets is
now one of the principle causes of poverty in the world. The growth
of the informal sector, which is often viewed as an alternative
to regular, salaried employment, offers to millions of people
wishing to work little more than unstable, subsistence-level activities
that are characterized by low productivity. The shrinking supply
of real jobs has resulted in a heterogeneous labour market in
which the number of irregular and poorly-paid jobs has increased
dramatically 4 .
It is clear that these upheavals are among the principle causes
of the rise of exclusion and pauperization in the world. Given
the necessity of finding alternatives to the uncoupling of the
relationship between labour and production, these upheavals represent
one of the most important challenges facing decision-makers as
the century draws to a close.
Is it possible, without waiting for the dismantling
of the old order to be completed, to shorten - or at least render
more tolerable - the current period of transition, which portends
such profound changes? As Louis Emmerij has insisted, it is politically
and humanly irresponsible to accept the situation as it is without
attempting to change it. For it not only generates instability,
as one can see, it also engenders a social crisis whose extent
is becoming ever more apparent.
The current social crisis exists on a world
scale. It spares neither the countries of the South where the
immense majority of those living in absolute poverty are to be
found, nor the Western, industrialized nations where a «new
poverty» has appeared in the past decade, nor the ex-socialist
countries - which are now paying a steep price for the speed at
which they have embarked on the transition to a market economy.
Table : the widening gap between the rich and the poor.
Source : diagram adapted from UNDP 1994, op. cit.
Far from getting smaller, the gap is thus widening
between the rich and poor countries, and the unequal distribution
of the world's wealth is one of the principle causes of the growing
The explanation does not stop here, however.
The aggravation of poverty and inequality is a phenomenon that
few countries are now spared from. Its ravages are well-known
in Africa, where the fall in real income, decline in salaried
employment and sharply increasing unemployment, and reduction
in public spending have lowered the standard of living of a growing
share of the population 7 .
In Latin America the social sector has paid the heaviest price
since the implementation of economic reforms. According to the
World Bank, urban poverty in Latin America increased by 31% in
the 1980s, and rural poverty by 18% 8.
The transition toward a market economy by the ex-socialist countries
has been accompanied by an aggravation of poverty and inequality
of income. According to Vladimir Rukavishnikov, social polarization
is one of the main results of the reforms currently underway in
Russia. In 1994, the top 20% of wage earners received 51.4% of
the national wage bill, as opposed to 39.9% in 1991. Likewise,
the richest 20% of Russian citizens took 40% of the national income,
whereas the bottom 20% only received 8%. In the industrialized
Western countries - the European Union and United States - more
than 15% of the population lived below the poverty line 9.
Table by Bhalla et Lapeyre : the evolution of the GNP per capita and income distribution in selected countries. Paper presented at the Roskilde Symposium, p. 17.
Sources : World Bank, Social Indicators of Development, 1994, Washington D.C., A. Boltho, Growth, income distribution and household welfare in the industrialized countries since the first oil shock, Economic Paper Series No. 26, International Child Development Centre, UNICEF, Florence, 1992 and P. Townsend, The International Analysis of Poverty, Hemel Hempstead, Harvester-Wheatsheaf, 1993.
One of the most striking consequences of the transformations of the 1980s has been the emergence, throughout the world, of dual societies where great wealth rubs up against the most abject poverty. This evolution has resulted in a sort of interpenetration of the notions of North and South, which have, for some time now, ceased to refer to strictly delimited geographical areas. The ghettos of American cities and the suburbs of European metropolises, all with large numbers of immigrants, are afflicted with high rates of unemployment and functional illiteracy, and thus constitute islands of the «South» in the heart of the «North.» Likewise, the narrow strata of the privileged that one sees in many cities of the South, whose standard of living compares with that of their counterparts in the rich countries, forms an archipelago of the North in the middle of the mass misery of the South.
The exhumation by the neo-conservatives of
the concept of «trickle down,» that was in such vogue
during the 1960s, has revealed yet once more its illusory character.
High economic growth has not engendered any more trickle down
effect on the lower classes today than it did three decades ago.
Liberal reformers at the time had concluded that only an active
social policy could bring about the redistribution of the fruits
of economic growth. Such a realization seems ever more indispensable
today, as exclusion and poverty have reached such high levels
throughout the world that they can no longer be considered as
simply accidental or residual phenomena. On the contrary, they
appear more and more to be a consequence of the manner in which
the economic and political structure of the world currently functions.
Contemporary reality shows that development involves more than
simple economic growth, however necessary that may be, and that
growth on its own cannot cure the planet of the many ills it suffers 10.
Such an observation has important implications. Both the generalization of the social crisis and the social character of the global crisis gives a whole new meaning today to the expression distorted development. Is the increasingly pronounced dualization of societies - which has plunged a number of them into a state of anomy - due to the fact that, as Riccardo Petrella 11 puts it, «the economy seems to have increasingly lost any sense of purpose»? In any case, it is more pertinent than ever to call into question the predominant models of development, as experience has proven that they are at the root of the exclusion that afflicts a growing portion of the world's population.
On a world scale, the less developed countries
(LDCs) occupy an increasingly marginal place in the production
of wealth and in global trade networks, and their marginalized
position in the world economy has accelerated the process of pauperization
of their peoples. At the current time, as Ajit Bhalla and Frédéric
Lapeyre point out, globalization profits those countries that
are prepared for it and marginalizes the others. In each country,
unqualified job seekers are relegated to the margins of the work
force; it is this exclusion from regular, salaried employment
that constitutes the principle cause of their loss of social status
and means of existence. Record rates of unemployment and underemployment
in all parts of the globe give an idea as to the scale of social
exclusion in the world today.
The two phenomena of exploitation and exclusion are not, however, totally independent of one another. Can one say, as does Philippe Van Parijs, that the successes obtained by European welfare states and trade unions in the struggle against exploitation rendered exclusion the predominant form of social injustice? The increase in the number of the excluded, who live on the margins of mainstream society, tends to confirm this hypothesis. On the other hand, the spread of exclusion throughout the world has contributed to a reinforcement of exploitation, witness the sheer number of job seekers on the labour market.
These questions regarding the respective importance
of the two phenomena are not a matter of a simple quarrel among
specialists. The response one gives to them generates policies
that assign priority either to the struggle against exploitation
or the battle against exclusion. This dilemma - and it is indeed
a dilemma, according to Van Parijs - is far from being settled.
One can measure the effects of this by the liveliness of the debates,
both in Europe and else-where, as to whether or not priority should
be given to increasing salaries or creating employment.
Formally, at least, the battle against the
ever increasing scourge of exclusion has become the official priority
of states. The holding of the Copenhagen summit, which has made
exclusion its principle theme, is a sign of this. The reality
that this now commonly-used term covers - which is sometimes used
in place of poverty - remains somewhat vague, however. The participants
at the Roskilde symposium attempted to identify just what is meant
by exclusion, in order to outline better solutions that deal not
only with the symptoms but also the root causes of the phenomenon.
In the first place, and as Ajit Bhalla and
Frédéric Lapeyre have noted, the concept of social
exclusion - which generally comes within the domain of sociology,
whereas studies of poverty are usually taken up by economists
- was born in Europe. This is to be explained by the sharp increase
in the number of poor, whose numbers in the twelve countries of
the EEC (prior to 1994) went from 38 million in 1975 to 53 million
in 1992. If the concept has indeed become internationalized, it
nonetheless encompasses several different syndromes.
Bhalla and Lapeyre identify three principle
dimensions of exclusion. Its economic dimension is a direct producer
of poverty: the excluded are, in the first place, the unemployed
who find themselves entirely eliminated from the labour market
and thus deprived of a regular income. Outside the sphere of salaried
employment, the economically excluded are those persons or groups
who are deprived of access to assets such as property or credit.
Exclusion is also social: unemployment not
only deprives one of an income but also of his status in society.
He is thus denied all social existence, which in most societies
is directly linked to the holding of a job. As a result, the individual
may lose his sense of personal dignity. Exclusion also represents,
as Jacques Charmes has put it, the loss of an individual's links
to mainstream society, which leads to the fraying of the social
fabric and the eventual forging of solidarity ties with religious
fundamentalist or mafia-type networks. In African societies, the
ORSTOM researchers emphasize, the loss of social relations is
seen as a much worse calamity than the reduction or loss of income.
Finally, exclusion takes on a political character
when certain categories of the population - such as women, ethnic
and religious minorities, or migrants - are deprived of part or
all of their political and human rights.
These three dimensions manifest themselves
in varying ways and depending on the social formation in question.
Peoples, groups, or individuals may be pushed out of the productive
sphere because they have been excluded from the environment that
gives one access to it, having been deprived of education or medical
care. Entire portions of a society may be excluded from the enjoyment
of effective citizenship and, a fortiori, from participation
in those areas where decisions are taken.
Trevor Hancock has endowed the concept of exclusion
with a fourth and temporal dimension. Non-lasting modes of development,
by compromising the survival of future generations, excludes them
from the benefits of feasible, durable development. In bringing
about exclusion today, the dominant economic logic is laying the
groundwork for exclusion tomorrow.
But is the concept relevant in social formations where those who would be considered excluded in the North in fact make up the majority of the population? As Mahdi Elmandjra has asked, how should the issue of exclusion be taken on when the social norm is dictated by a minority in society? In such a case, is it reasonable to speak of the majority of the population as an excluded category? Should not one, on the contrary, ask questions as to the inclusion in society of minorities living a Western life style? Assuming that the term is relevant in all places, exclusion conjures up the word «integration» more than it does «poverty.» Though exclusion and poverty often intersect, they are not synonymous terms and the latter deserves to be clarified.
Poverty is one of the factors contributing
to exclusion but does not necessarily bring it about. In a number
of countries in the South, as an ORSTOM report emphasizes, «the
poor remain incorporated within family and extra-family networks
of social protection and mutual assistance,» and that «this
incorporation produces integration and not exclusion.» 14.
In a number of countries the rupture of community and family-based
solidarity networks is an important factor pushing individuals
below what is commonly referred to as the poverty line. This is
the case in the United States, and in a number of countries in
Latin America and the Maghreb, where single-parent families headed
by women are among the poorest. Poverty is also a consequence
of a series of political and social exclusions. For example, discrimination
based on gender or membership in a minority group increases the
risks of poverty for a marginalized category of the population.
Finally, it refers to a series of notions that are by nature subjective, such as need, inequality, or privation. As Bhalla and Lapeyre insist, such notions cannot be evaluated in simple material terms. Society's perception of poverty, for example, is not the same in a poor country as in a rich one. Is it possible to settle the issue by defining a minimum income below which an individual will be regarded as poor?
If an analysis of poverty and the policies designed to combat it may be based on obvious facts such as its close relationship with income levels, the market, or the nature of work, it thus appears equally obvious that different categories of the poor do not require the same treatment in order to improve their condition.
But quantitative and purely economic indicators
such as GNP whose inadequacy has been abundantly criticized for
a number of years now, die hard and have only been partially unseated
by more precise evaluations of the state of a society. The indicator
of human development elaborated by the UNDP - which attempts,
among other things, to correct the rigidity of GNP in emphasizing
purchasing power parities in its calculation of real income -
is one of the efforts made at perfecting the analysis in question.
But it is deemed too reductionist by numerous researchers, who
criticize the use of an artificial indicator in order to comprehend
a complex reality.
For example, what is the best manner in which
to measure the incidence of poverty? The Inter-American Development
Bank has attempted in a recent study to define the dimensions
of the problem in Latin America 15.
What criteria of well-being should be adopted to define poverty,
disposable income, social income - i.e., access to basic services
such as health care, education, drinking water, etc. -and indicators
of the quality of life, to name a few? Who exactly is poor and
what is the extent of the scale of poverty among those poor? Limiting
the analysis to the poverty line may make it so that the number
of poor varies greatly, which may have a direct impact on the
amount of public resources consecrated to fighting poverty.
In point of fact, what is measured implicitly
anticipates the policy framework that is eventually put in place.
It is therefore necessary, as Ignacy Sachs advocates, to decide
on the objective before selecting a method of measurement and
evaluation. The preliminary questions as to the choice of any
indicator should be: «What development, for whom and within
what institutional structures? What place should having and being
have in them?» 16
If the social aspect of development becomes a priority for policy
- thus reversing the drift toward the economism of recent decades -, social accounting will have to take the place of the economic
accounting that currently guides development strategies. Indicators
that allow one to work toward a development centred on human beings
should, to use Sachs's expression, open the way for the construction
of an «anthropological economy», far removed from today's
The clarification of the concepts one uses
is thus of primary importance. It constitutes a prior condition
for the definition of priorities, courses of action, and actors
to be implicated in social development policy. If the symposium
participants engaged in a rigorous exploration of the notions
of poverty and exclusion, they did not, however, extend their
investigation to other terms that are also omnipresent in social
science discourse. One may also regret, along with Barbara Harrell-Bond,
that they frequently invoked the concept of civil society, without,
however, attempting to define its contours. Can civil society
be understood simply as the increasingly dense galaxy of non-governmental
organizations? Do these organizations - which have not been adequately
analyzed - constitute the ultimate expression of civil society?
Turning to another question, the concept of modernity - which
Laura Balbo sees as the horizon for new sociological thinking
- would also benefit from greater analysis, so as to avoid misunder-standings
that arise from its all too frequent utilization.
It is nonetheless the case that poverty and
exclusion are the principle manifestations of the social crisis
that we have attempted to analyze here.
This dictatorship of the economy has reached
the point of caricature with the implementation, since the beginning
of the 1980s, of structural adjustment programmes in developing
countries with heavy burdens of external debt. Their one and only
goal being the restoration of financial equilibrium in the concerned
states, these structural adjustment programmes have, in almost
all analyses carried out up to now, resulted in a deterioration
of the social situation of the most vulnerable sectors of the
population in these countries. These programmes have been accompanied
by a reduction in the portion of wages as a percentage of national
income, an increase in inequality, decreasing job security, a
rise in unemployment, and the disengagement of the state from
the social sector; as the Inter-American Development Bank has
observed, structural adjustment has sacrificed social progress
in favour of financial equilibrium. Almost every Latin American
country experienced a drop in per capita GNP in the course of
the 1980s. In sub-Saharan Africa per capita public spending declined
during this period in two-thirds of the nineteen countries for
which data is available 18.
Governmental officials and financial backers do not hesitate,
however, to speak of an improvement in those countries where social
problems have become worse. Structural adjustment programmes have,
in fact, quickly ceased being a simple ensemble of measures designed
to restore a minimum of financial discipline in the indebted countries.
They have been rapidly transformed into instruments of macro-
economic policy whose objective is to make the entire planet submit
to the dominant economic norm.
Sixto Roxas, in telling the story of this deviation,
feels that since the nineteenth century Western civilization has
made the market and its self-regulating capacity the basis for
democracy, the liberal state itself being the creation of this
market. The key to this system, which was at one time called into
question with the development of the Keynesian welfare state,
resides in the assertion that the laws which govern the market
are of the same order as the universal laws of physics. It is
therefore to be understood that a major characteristic of dominant
economic thinking is that it considers itself to be scientifically
based and universally valid. This gives it, in the words of Ignacy
Sachs, «an ahistoric and atopic character 19.»
One must attempt to understand, says Roxas, why the market has
progressively occupied the totality of the economic terrain and
how an economic theory has been able to transform itself into
a dominant ideology. Such is the case today. Thanks to a powerful
network structured by international financial institutions, and
those issuing from Bretton Woods in particular, the dominant economic
order is in the process of establishing a global hegemony of such
omnipotence that one may truly speak of our epoch as the civilization
of the market, or of enterprise.
The result of such an evolution is that, in
Petrella's words, competitiveness «is no longer a means;
it has become the prime objective not just of enterprises but
also of the state and society as a whole 20.»
But when the survival of a group, state, or society is supposed
to be subject to competitiveness, the world enters into a logic
of war, as the Other - the competitor - becomes a source of danger.
Petrella agrees with Roxas in asserting that private enterprise
is in the process of shaping the values of our times by fixing
the rules of the game, not only for itself but also for the state
and the whole of society. The constraint of the dominant economism
is now such that states are enjoined to run themselves like private
firms, whereas the latter take on an increasing number of prerogatives
that were once in the exclusive domain of the state.
Basic to such logic is that the gains in productivity
resulting from technological innovation are regarded as progress,
and that employment does not have the status as a key variable
in development strategies. Worsening unemployment is thus the
price that has to be paid for increasing competitiveness, which
is seen as the precondition for collective survival. As long as
the dynamic of unemployment is not replaced by a dynamic of employment,
the link between production and labour will become even looser.
The economy will thus, as Sachs maintains, continue to produce
The social crisis, which has now become the
norm, is thus due in large part to the fact that «development
strategies proposed and followed up to now are defined essentially
in economic terms and hardly give any thought to their consequences,
either on the nature of social relations or on the general viability
of the societies that they affect 21.»
Disregarding the plural nature of humanity, the pensée unique thus promotes the fiction of a single, global society that is liable to be driven toward progress by submitting itself to a single model. In this vision of the world, crises in the model are little more than chance mishaps.
But what are the real causes of its present
malady? Is this due to the fact that, as Bent Greve and Louis
Emmerij advance, the Keynesian model of the welfare state is based
on full employment? Is it the victim of the very institutions
it created, which have engendered oversized bureaucracies and
an excessive centralization of decision-making? The economic crisis,
which has diminished public resources and tax receipts across
Europe, and the privatization of large portions of public sectors
under the pressure of the market, have in any case posed in brutal
fashion the problem of how the welfare state is now to be financed.
Less well endowed and more spendthrift than in the past, the state
has proved to be incapable of financing the social equity that
it has long enjoined itself to do. This has, among other things,
caused it to lose the legitimacy that its regulatory function
has conferred upon it.
The most spectacular consequence of this exhaustion
throughout the industrialized world is the cutting back of social
programmes and the rise of insecurity. Some observers indeed do
not hesitate to see in these phenomena the signs of a rupture
in the social contract upon which the modern development of European
societies has been based. The European welfare state is certainly
not dead, nor have the factors that brought it into being disappeared.
But it is now caught between the cross pressures of globalization,
on the one hand, and the emergence of new regional and local dynamics
- themselves the fruit of globalization -, on the other. It is
between these two frontiers that the welfare state must henceforth
restore its prerogatives and freedom of action.
The welfare state will have to redefine its
role and attributes. If this exercise seems achievable in the
older, industrialized countries, it is considerably less certain
in the countries of the South where veritable welfare states have
never existed. As Mahdi Elmandjra points out, state-building in
the South is a relatively recent phenomenon and is far from being
completed; these states thus possess neither the structures nor
the resources that could permit them to insure a sufficient level
of social protection. The weakness or absence al-together of social
policy in the South may thus be explained by the embryonic character
of state-building in that part of the world. This is aggravated,
as ORSTOM reminds us, by the privatization of state functions,
which results in forms of regulation that are «clientelistic,
rentier, and repressive» in character. Such traits are prevalent
in the countries of the South. On the other hand, and as has already
been mentioned, traditional solidarity ties do in part make up
for this absence of the state. But traditional structures are
also subject to the multiple shock effects of modernization, which
reduces their efficacy, when it does not lead to their outright
The crisis in the South is thus not one of
the welfare state. But this does not mean that it is any less
serious. In many countries of the South, as Jorge Wilheim notes,
the state is in the process of disintegration. He attributes the
proliferation of NGOs to this decay of the state, as they constitute
a partial response to the increasingly flagrant absence of public
authority. The latter, given its lack of means in many countries,
no longer carries out the regulatory and «stately» tasks
that theoretically constitute the essence of its mission.
The question as to how one defines the role
and functions of the state is thus not of the same order in the
countries of the North and the South. Can the latter embark on
the road to a society that takes charge of its destiny by skipping
over the stage of the welfare state? Mahdi Elmandjra does not
think so, considering that in the absence of an institutional
network capable of promoting social progress, the LDC's will require
the active intervention of the state, whose legitimacy will have
to be based on reconstruction with the establishment of democracy.
An impossible wager? Not necessarily, deems Ignacy Sachs, for
whom welfare-type states can be built in the South at much less
cost than their full-fledged counterparts in the industrialized
world, insofar as the low cost of labour may also constitute a
comparative advantage in the area of social programmes. The experiences
of countries such as China, Cuba, and Sri Lanka have shown that
relatively modest levels of investment can produce spectacular
results in the social domain. Sachs thus reckons that one may
invest efficiently in health care and education without a massive
transfer of funds from the North to the South.
One may nonetheless deplore, as does Jorge
Wilheim, the fact that the scholars and specialists at the Roskilde
symposium spent little time exploring the question of democracy
in the South, giving priority instead to the search for new ways
in which to dynamize the welfare state in the North and better
enable society to take control of its destiny.
If nothing is done to limit the deviant drift of the market and find new forms of regulation, one runs the very real risk of seeing - in both the North and the South - the proliferation of «two-speed» societies, as well as the generalization of a sort of social apartheid which is already the lot of numerous countries in the South.
But urbanization has continued apace and at
an accelerated rhythm. In the year 2000, a full half of humanity,
i.e. 3.2 billion persons, will live in cities. In the period 1980-2000,
the number of city-dwellers in the South will have doubled, going
from one to two billion. A second doubling will come about in
the 25 years to follow, which will bring the total number to four
Though the number of rural poor has not diminished
and misery remains the lot of the majority of those living in
the countryside in much of the world, particularly in the Sahel
and South Asia, the social crisis today is increasingly urban
in character. The urbanization of poverty ranks among the principle
factors of social and political instability in the world. This
is the reason why a world summit centring on cities will be organized
by the United Nations in 1996. In order that it yield concrete
results, it will have to tackle the many roots of urban poverty.
The manifestations of the global social crisis,
as we have seen, are now too numerous to ignore. To do away with
exclusion and attempt to construct more socially cohesive societies
is nonetheless a vast undertaking and whose implementation will
necessitate a profound change in the economic and political logic
that have brought about the current situation.
The calling into question of economism and
the return to a holistic conception of development - which breaks
with the excessive sectoralization that has prevailed over the
decades - thus appears as a precondition for any enterprise wishing
to base change on the primacy of social policy. This demarch is
also a matter of principle insists Alberto Tarozzi, who notes
that neo-classical liberalism is characterized by the will to
deprive social regulation of any moral basis; to assert the demand
for a social development that includes everyone consists of conferring
an ethical dimension upon the concept of development.
It is in fact essential, as Ignacy Sachs asserts,
to endow meaning on this durable development - of which so much
has been said since the Rio Earth Summit in June 1992 - and to
recall that it is a multidimensional concept which can only be
realized through an approach «where the social is in control,
the ecological is an accepted constraint and the economic is reduced
to its instrumental role 23.»
This new value system, in which economic efficiency would cease
to be measured according the sole criterion of the profitability
of enterprises and instead according to the satisfaction of social
needs, is the only one, according to Sachs, that is capable of
being universally operational while at the same time respecting
the diversity of humanity.
If one were to put an end to the hegemonic
status of dominant economic thinking - where LCD's are expected
to mimic the experiences of the industrialized countries - and
give primacy to social policy, it would become possible for development
strategies to take into account the twin character of the human
condition, which is both universal and - depending on the country
and culture - specific in nature. The principle of universality
would, to use Mahdi Elmandjra's expression, finally cease being
synonymous with Western ethnocentrism, which has unilaterally
decided to endow its model with universal value.
It is not possible to ensure the primacy of
the social side of development without reference to politics.
The continued aggravation of inequality illustrates, in effect,
the political dimension of the social issue and demolishes the
myth of the neutrality of the state, which, according to the nature
of the policies carried out and power relationships in the system,
may be either an agent for integration or a force for exclusion.
But the ability of the state to engender exclusion has been reinforced
in recent years by its near wholesale adoption of neo-classical
economic policies, whose one and only goal is to create a favourable
environment for the flourishing of free enterprise.
There are two political aspects to the social
issue. As Henrique Rattner emphasizes, it poses the problem as
to the legitimacy of policies that have led to a cutting back
of the welfare state in Europe, as well as of the struggles that
various societal categories have led in order to have their rights
recognized. The social issue also impinges on politics, according
to the IUED's report, insofar as all processes of ordering a society's
priorities is political by its very nature, as it must take into
account conflicting interests between different groups and social
classes. The elaboration of a development strategy that accords
primacy to social policy must therefore be accompanied by the
building of a political and social base, which is essential in
order for the strategy to be carried out.
The rejection of the dictatorship of economism
will lead the world into adopting a different economic logic.
The certainty according to which the market economy must be considered
as the norm for scientifically rational decision-making will be
succeeded by a holistic conception of development from which the
political dimension will not be able to be excluded. The logic
of short-run thinking, upon which the search for profits is based,
will be succeeded by the notion of a societal project implying
long-term reflection as to the ultimate aims of development. The
idea according to which the general interest is simply the sum
total of particularistic interests, which can be satisfied by
the play of market forces, will be replaced by both an analysis
of possible ways to meet the aspirations of different social categories
and the translation of choices decided upon into priorities for
This ambitious programme poses the question as to the modalities of change as much as it does that of ultimate aims. The scholars and specialists gathered at Roskilde were in agreement that the debate over means is as important as the identification of ends.
Regardless of how one answers these questions
the case remains that change in ways of life is at the heart of
the problem of durable development. This change poses the crucial
problem of the forging of a new relationship between the North
and South that is based on the recognition of planetary solidarity.
It is, in the first place, a matter of sharing in a less unequal
manner the use of finite natural resources and the fruits of global
growth, which one now knows will be slower than in the past and
more constrained by ecological considerations. If one takes as
a starting point the hypothesis, which is taken up by Louis Emmerij,
that growth in consumption by the poorest is a condition of their
well-being, should one henceforth set aside for them the benefits
Is the latter idea even compatible with the
notion of durable development? No, replies Nick Meyer, for whom
the available ecological space can no longer produce growth for
all and must be reserved for the LCD's, the rich countries having
already largely abused the planet's resources. Sachs asserted
in return that the demand for durable development does not put
an end to economic growth, as energy and other material factors
of production contain many potential sources for increased productivity
that have yet to be exploited. He nonetheless endorses the idea
that the societies of the North restrain their levels of consumption
in order that the enrichment of some does not bring about the
impoverishment of others, and thus lead to globalization of social
As a number of symposium participants pointed
out, however, the beneficiaries of the current system are nonetheless
sufficiently numerous and powerful to prevent the changes that
the international community recognized as necessary at the Rio
summit. It does not bear repeating, for example, that nearly all
industrial firms would like to continue externalizing the social
and environmental costs of an economic growth that generates less
and less social progress. Only the internalization of these costs
will put an end to environmental and human waste that characterizes
the logic of the dominant mode of production. How can alternative
modes of production implying the development of more economical
ways of life be fostered when it is known, as Dupont and Rattner
remind us, that powerful lobbies - particularly in the energy
sector - have no interest in promoting alternative technologies,
and that the much talked about cultural imperialism conceals a
technological domination, which is less often mentioned.
This is why Rattner insists on the need to identify with precision the global actors who seem to have so much power, to better discern their interests, and explore their cognitive structure in order to understand the vision they have of the world which they are in the process of shaping. The problem of conflicting interests and of the political stakes linked to change has thus been posed yet again, as well as the identification of forces liable to promote it. In an increasingly interdependent world it is, moreover, indispensable to plan for the creation of international regulatory organisms, without, however, downplaying the importance of the role played by the nation-state.
What will perhaps be regarded as Europe's most positive contribution of the twentieth century is its invention of a state capable of remedying serious social inequality, redistributing the fruits of growth and innovation, and able to counterbalance the perverse effects of the unbridled market. One should thus not advocate a «smaller state,» as partisans of neo-classical liberalism do, but rather a «better state,» which presupposes a redefinition of its modes of operation and relations with the ensemble of economic and social actors. It is in any case illusory to think that the European welfare state can continue to exist without some fundamental changes, Alberto Tarrozzi considers, seeing that even in its heyday it never really succeeded in reaching either the poorest strata, the most backward regions, or groups experiencing specific problems. While reasserting the necessity of its continued existence, the manner in which society is organized must be thought through afresh. This implies, according to Laura Balbo, calling into question the bureaucratic and centralized character of the state. The state must be transformed so that its principle function is not so much to protect society as it is to lead the way and, while providing services, create a context that will narrow social cleavages and allow society to take charge of its destiny.
The debate over the minimum income has given
an idea as to the complexity of the question. Niels Meyer and
Philip Van Parijs have advocated the adoption of a minimum level
of remuneration for everyone, which is to be understood as the
right to an income for the whole of the citizenry. For Meyer,
the generalization of a guaranteed salary should be able to be
obtained by a policy of work-sharing; Van Parijs, on the other
hands, promotes the idea of a dissociation between work and income,
the right to the latter not having to depend on the holding of
a job. The latter idea, which is certainly generous, would nonetheless
be difficult to implement. Louis Emmerij asked if this is economically
feasible and insisted, along with Bent Greve, on the difficulties
of financing such an enterprise. José Figueredo, for his
part, wondered about the effectiveness of a minimum salary taken
as a means of combating exclusion, when it is known that exclusion
results not only from a lack of income.
But, above all, who should be able to benefit
from this? Should a minimum income be implemented everywhere in
the world or can it only be realized in countries where the state
theoretically has the means to finance it? In the latter case,
can one speak about the struggle against exclusion if the majority
of the world's population does not take part in such a redistributive
scheme? Several participants insisted on the need to think about
these issues on a world scale and not to sacrifice, once again,
the countries of the South on the alter of the well-being of the
societies of the North. For one should not have any illusions
here, as Jean-Luc Dubois maintained: if a minimum income were
implemented in the rich countries, it would be, at least in part,
financed by a reduction in development aid geared to the countries
of the South. The countries of the North indeed have a duty to
combat exclusion at home, but they should not do so by penalizing
Mending the social fabric where it has frayed
under the combined effects of the crisis, liberalization policies,
and urbanization demands serious reflection on a series of complementary
actions. Legislation in the areas of labour and social protection
throughout the world have been developed in relationship to the
dominant model of salaried employment. But, as the above-cited
ORSTOM report points out, «not only does the wage-earning
sector still absorb a minority of individuals in every developing
country, but it is also declining under the effect of increasing
unemployment and the growth of the informal sector on the fringes
of the state». It is thus urgent that new forms of social
protection be developed in these countries that will benefit the
Given that the globalization of the economy is an important factor explaining exclusion in the poorest countries and among the most defenseless categories throughout the world, economic policies in a number of countries should be reconsidered, with a view toward reducing the priority accorded to exports and giving preference once again to the internal market. By reassigning the notion of territory to the core of economic policy, which has been globally-centred for the past two decades, the construction of veritable internal markets on the national, regional, and local levels would encourage the creation of economic «space» that would both satisfy domestic demand and help produce solidarity ties that are currently non-existent.
If it is agreed that one must explore all avenues
capable of curing the social ills currently afflicting the world,
work-sharing seems to be one essential route to take. For work,
as we have seen, does not only generate income. It is also, as
Niels Meyer notes, a primordial component of social existence,
insofar as men need to be part of a «community of work»
in order to feel that they are contributing something to the life
of the collectively. Since the world today is producing more and
with less labour, and since growth no longer creates employment,
it is essential, Louis Emmerij insists, that the labour market
be restructured in order to take into account the gains in productivity
engendered by technological innovation. Decision-makers must stop
viewing unemployment as an inevitability, Ignacy Sachs contends,
and start implementing vigorous employment policies, whose foundations
are work-sharing and job creation in the heretofore neglected
Mending the social fabric is especially urgent, as the health of democracy depends on it. The rise of totalitarian temptations driven by ultra-nationalistic myths - which frequently seduce collectivizes that have descended into a state of social anomie - is sufficient testimony that the absence of social cohesion can pose a serious danger for democracy. For, as Ajit Bhalla reminds us, democracy can hardly have substance if the majority of the population lives in a state of exclusion and spends most of its energy struggling to survive. In advancing the axiom of the recognition of dignity and of basic rights for all, the IUED's report asserts that social development by its very nature situates democracy at the heart of the debate.
To go from a model where the state is seen
as the sole agent of social change toward a perspective where
the actors play a determining role in change is not utopian, according
to Laura Balbo; it is a condition that must be fulfilled in order
to allow society to take greater charge of its destiny in a world
where the various agencies of power - state or community - no
longer assume the functions of real and symbolic protection of
the population, which used to be among their attributes. The necessary
evolution toward societies that take greater responsibility for
their destinies necessitates a redefinition of the relationship
between the principle social partners, the state, market, and
An indispensable actor in economic and social
life, as history has shown, the market cannot be the sole agency
that regulates social relations. The past few decades have proven
this. Generally speaking, private initiative, whether it comes
from the market or elsewhere, cannot substitute for the state,
which the whole of society needs for its role as an arbitrator.
This is especially so since, contrary to dominant tendency of
recent years, associations issuing from civil society - that some
have idealized - are more subject than one may think to the logic
of self-interest. Many «popular initiatives,» as ORSTOM
notes, are not as spontaneous as they may seem. As for associations
in the countries of the South, they often «conceal strategies
for cornering international aid» and turn it «into major
tools of self-aggrandizement and self-promotion» 24 ; in the North, associations do not always escape the logic of
the cash nexus or of political instrumentalization. One must also
ask how representative many NGOs really are, particularly given
that many proclaim themselves to be the spokesmen of a civil society
that is often silent and which did not necessary designate them.
What forms of partnership should be invented
in order to allow the ensemble of social actors to play a role,
and to harmonize public policy and citizen action? Can the tripartite
negotiating approach, which inspired the creation of the ILO and
remains a means of bargaining between trade unions and the state
in many countries, still play a role?
The Hungarian experience, described by Lajos
Hethy, shows the advantages and limitations of this. Hungary,
he explains, is a country where political and social stability
quickly appeared as an important stake in the context of an accelerated
transition - with all the consequences that implied - toward a
market economy. As the trade unions had not lost their character
as mass organizations, negotiations were able to take place with
business associations and the state in order to reach agreements
over labour legislation, the regulation of salaries and the right
to strike, the share contributed by business for social protection
schemes, and so on. Even better, tripartite dialogue enabled the
trade unions to take part in the formulation of public policy
and demonstrated that this form of organization contributes in
large part to maintenance of social peace. As Hethy warned, however,
in the absence of a veritable social policy the search for an
accord with the trade unions may be a simple means to get the
population to accept the negative effects of the transition, without
its modalities or goals being discussed.
If the principle of tripartite bargaining is
to maintain its value, it must be adapted to the evolution of
civil society and enlarged in order to incorporate the ensemble
of social partners, including representatives of the excluded,
who are often ignored by traditional trade union structures. Dialogue
must in all cases be extended to the making of economic policy,
in which the every citizen takes part.
At what level should decisions concerning a
given collectivity be taken? This is a crucial question for democracy,
which, in order to cease being merely representative and to take
on a participatory dynamic, must take into account the need to
differentiate levels of decision-making and to increase the power
of local authorities. Allowing democratic local structures to
intervene in the decision-making process presupposes the recognition
of the diversity of circumstances, needs, and actors. It is to
recognize that there exists no single solution that can resolve
the problems of a pluralistic world.
What should the modalities of this recognition
be? Can decision-making function according to the principle of
subsidiarity, as Sixto Roxas proposes, where the international
community is considered as a vast community of communities? To
reorganize democratically a world that is characterized by the
tradition of a centralized nation-state, the dilution of responsibilities
on the international level, and the silence of local actors, it
seems necessary to reflect on new relationships between the local,
national, international, and global levels. The increase in the
number of actors involved in defining policy, which has been a
positive development, does not, however, mean that one has to
respond to every single demand. Rather, as the IUED report proposes,
it is a matter of building an institutional body capable of arbitrating
conflicts between contradictory interests and to solicit the participation
of different levels of decision-making in the definition of collective
goals; in other words, of reconciliating local action and global
thinking. The objective is ambitious insofar as up to now, as
Ajit Bhalla reminds us, competition is often the rule in the relationship
between different decision-making levels; for Bhalla, what is
needed is to go from a logic of competition to one of complementarity.
One of the solutions, according to Henri Rattner, would perhaps
be to define the level of centralization that all modern societies
One of the routes toward more participatory
societies may involve, as Trevor Hancock proposes, ceasing to
talk only in terms of the satisfaction of the needs of the communities
concerned and to take into account their non-utilized capacities.
Linking up needs and capacity would allow for the resolution of
a considerable number of problems at the local level, Hancock
continued, basing his argument partly on the experience of participatory
health care structures in Canada.
Generally speaking, the recognition of the
plurality of contexts, of the right of all to participation, and
the multiplication of decision-making levels implies the decompartmentalization
of different levels of knowledge, by creating passageways between
popular knowledge, scientific knowledge, and scholasty knowledge.
For, as Richard Knight notes, the priority accorded to elitist
knowledge in nearly all national policies has deprived humanity
of a good part of its savoir-faire. «Ninety percent of human
knowledge today has been produced over the past thirty years»,
Knight asserts. «But if one defines knowledge as the ability
to survive on earth in a lasting manner, then 90% of human knowledge
has been lost in the past thirty years». Such a decompartmentalization
is not impossible, as Kurt Nielsen showed in pointing to the Danish
experience in this area. The promotion of popular knowledge and
it being linked up with academic knowledge has in part, according
to Nielsen, enabled Denmark to prevent the technostructure from
entirely running the country.
The question over whether or not democracy
is a precondition or a result of development has been long debated,
though without any conclusion being arrived at. It is clear that
a society where survival is the sole objective of the majority
of the population can hardly produce anything more than the facade
of democracy. Socially-oriented development, for its part, will
call for the enlarging of the domain covered by democracy, which
will eradicate at the same time one of the major forms of exclusion:
In fact, the social sciences up to now have
served as a reservoir of information and statistics for economic
decision-makers won over to the «theology of the market»,
to use Cernea's expression. The order of priorities should be
changed in order that social policy be accorded the status it
should never have lost, thus integrating sociologists into all
levels of reflection and decision-making on matters relating to
Taking note of this deficiency should be cause
for reflection on the part of academics. Perhaps they are partly
responsible for their absence from decision-making circuits, Cernea
considers, insofar as they have rarely attempted to link up their
research with the real world of policy. If they wish to participate
in the development and implementation of development policies,
academics will have to do more than just analyze but also get
directly involved in action and share the risks.
Research must furthermore, deems Tarozzi, set
new priorities that take into account the evolution of the contemporary
world, as well as the obstacles to change. Since it is thus impossible
to extend the Western-style welfare state to the entire world,
given its exorbitant environmental, economic, and social costs,
it is urgent that durable development strategies be seriously
reflected upon, which could in return benefit the developed countries.
This proposal is especially relevant, as it was clear that, throughout
the Roskilde symposium, the debate was focused mainly on the problems
of the North; the participants seemed to have difficulty developing
new ways of thinking about North-South relations and the possible
solutions to global inequalities. The discussions around the welfare
state and the guaranteed minimum income gave an idea as to the
extent of this difficulty. The globalization of social problems
and the relative interpenetration of the North and South indeed
allow one to think globally more than before. But if one is not
careful this global thinking could once again take on the thinking
of the developed North.
Reflection for action must, in any case, be the objective of social science if it wants to be a full partner in the construction of to- morrow's world.
These institutions, Sixto Roxas reminds us,
were created not only to safeguard the hegemony of the dominant
economic order but were also designed to respond to the specific
functional needs of the developed capitalist countries. The effort
to internationalize this «recipe», to impose a model
that is being increasingly called into question, leads to the
conclusion that the rich countries deny the world's pluralistic
character. Seen from the angle of social development, it becomes
apparent that the entire edifice of development aid needs to be
recast, as Habiba Wassef emphasizes. The United Nations system
must, for its part, begin to adapt its modes of intervention to
the evolution in priorities, by participating more than it currently
does in the dynamics of change. International aid donors should
be more respectful of diversity and democracy, Habiba Wassef admonished,
as well as more attentive to points of view and approaches it
has long neglected to hear. Wassef continued by saying that these
aid donors should stop trying to impose their views and ways of
doing things on public authorities in the LCD's, who often operate
under domestic constraints and are frequently more knowledgeable
about the needs of their own societies.
The reform of the international system must put an end to the monopoly of interstate organizations and allow for the emergence of democratically-oriented global organizations with powers of oversight and of putting forth proposals. Such are the stakes, according to the World Alliance Against Social Apartheid, which endorses the creation of a global organization of citizen representation in order to facilitate, among other things, the equitable participation of all the world's inhabitants in the management of global affairs.
The Canadian experience, Trevor Hancock points
out, could only have been carried out by replacing the sectoral
approach to dealing with health care issues with a global vision
of the context in which the problems were situated. Income inequality,
social stratification, and the condition of the environment are
major factors impacting on health care and help explain why «inequalities»
in illness have not disappeared from societies where all the basic
needs of the population are supposed to have been satisfied. In
order to involve the whole of the population in resolving its
health care problems, a community-type approach based on local
action has been taken, which has led to the creation of health
care councils in a number of Canadian cities. The activities of
these councils includes the discussion of problems, development
of solutions, and the collecting and dissemination of ideas that
help groups of citizens take their own initiative. Round-tables
organized by the councils do not necessarily produce consensus
and often reflect conflicts of interest between different categories
of citizens, Hancock made clear; citizen action has, however,
reinforced their ability to influence municipal health care policies.
Though not taking on the same form, the Healthy
Cities network, which groups together more than thirty European
cities, is inspired by the same methods. It attempts to act in
all domains having an impact on health care, such as housing,
transport, and the environment, and to encourage decision-makers
to take into account the consequences of their policies on the
health care sector as a whole. The WHO has also innovated in expanding
its working relationships beyond just urban administrations, to
include a number of organisms and associations liable to play
a role in urban health and sanitation policies.
Other experiences could also inspire the search
for new forms of partnership between social actors, capable of
alleviating the deficiencies of the state and of finally giving
a real social content to municipal democracy.
The first consists of acting directly upon
the job market through voluntaristic policies. Without detailing
the modalities, one may specify two types of proposals liable
to put a brake on the dynamics that generate unemployment. José
Figueredo and Zafar Shaheed propose, among other things, the inflicting
of financial penalties on firms that resort too often to layoffs 26.
The fines thus collected could be used to finance unemployment
insurance programmes, pension funds, or action - in the educational
sector, for example - aiming to help non-qualified job seekers
find employment. In the same vein, financial-type incentives (subsidies,
tax rebates, etc.) can be envisaged for employers with active
hiring policies. Sachs reckons that many countries could solve
a part of the huge problem of rural under-employment by adopting
policies designed to increase rural, non-agricultural employment.
This would, among other things, increase the supply of services
to underdeveloped regions. In the urban areas, the creation of
social service-type jobs involving immediate contact with the
population, which are practically non-existent in the North as
well as in the South, would help alleviate the pressure on the
The second component of this active job creation
policy consists, strictly speaking, of acting upstream on the
job market. One is aware of the extent to which illiteracy, lack
of skills, and/or member-ship in a minority group suffering discrimination
bars hundreds of millions of individuals from access to visible,
paid employment. Only strategies whose objective is to remove
their handicaps can enable the most deprived and vulnerable groups
to acquire the tools that are indispensable for obtaining remunerative
employment. With this perspective in mind, the areas of health
care, education, and elimination of discrimination based on cultural
prejudices must be regarded as priorities for action. Such action
is especially necessary since it alone can help girls and women
escape the exclusion of which so many of them are victims. From
this angle, Richard Anker integrates family planning and day care
policies into the struggle against labour market exclusion 27.
But the symposium participants spent little
time discussing the issue of gender discrimination, or the fact
that the overwhelming majority of women are confined to the sphere
of non-remunerative domestic labour, which is relegated everywhere
to the category of household tasks or the so-called family economy.
The debates over the extension of democracy and on the link between
work and social status - between exclusion from the job market,
on the one hand, and poverty, on the other - showed that the gender
dimension of social exclusion was not taken into account at the
Roskilde symposium. Mere support for dynamic education and training
policies, including civic education, can nonetheless help remove
one of the major handicaps that women suffer from in a large number
The cost of these programmes, which is often invoked as an obstacle to their realization, poses fewer problems than is generally believed. It is certainly important to carry out studies of each potential programme to determine their compatibility with sound macroeconomic policies and to strive for the best ratio between cost, efficiency, and equity. But without even quantifying the political and financial price of social exclusion, the sums - which are often considerable, at least in the countries of the North - currently earmarked toward minimizing these scourges could be converted into actions that generate social cohesion.
Indispensable for reducing the inequalities
that are found in all countries, such reforms cannot, however,
have an impact on the unequal distribution of the world's wealth.
It would seem necessary to introduce a system of international
taxation in order to bring about more equitable distribution.
Such a system of taxation would raise significant financial resources
that could be devoted to social development. At the Rio summit,
for example, the institution of a tax on energy consumption -
the famous «ecotax» - was envisaged, though immediately
buried under the pressure of the United States, the big oil companies,
and hydrocarbon exporting countries. The explosive growth of speculative
capital in recent years has popularized the idea of creating a
tax - the Tobin tax, named after the Nobel Prize winning economist
who conceptualized it - on profits gained from speculative activity.
Yet again, numerous voices have been raised against such a tax,
all in the name of the sacrosanctity of the self-regulating market.
But such resistance to the inauguration of international taxation
should not prevent the continued study of such a system, nor of
efforts to put it into action.
We have only touched upon here the numerous
ways one can redistribute national and global assets in order
to benefit the disadvantaged. It is important to insist that such
policies are not utopian in character but are rather indispensable
in getting at the root causes of the world's social crisis.
Cities have always been centres of culture, contact, and of immense opportunities for human creativity. We have to insure that they continue to fulfill these functions, Jorge Wilheim pleaded. But can we truly label as «cities» the urban agglomerations which are inhabited by so many recent arrivals from the countryside? How should we manage the phenomenon, widespread in the South, of «rurbanization,» to use the term coined by sociologists? So many questions, which remind us of the urgency in developing veritable urban policies adapted to contemporary change.
Global reform aiming to reverse the dynamics
that create poverty and exclusion is an immense undertaking, to
say the least. The debates at the Roskilde symposium sought to
underscore the need to modify the existing order of priorities
and to forge, on a global scale, a durable development based on
people rather than on things.
A nostalgic attempt to recover a long lost
social harmony and rejection of an evolution regarded as inevitable
by its defenders? Certainly not. The defense of another type of
development, that is both durable and social in character, is
not, as some claim, a negative reaction to the shock effects of
modernity. On the contrary, it is a fight for modernity, as Sixto
Roxas maintains. In creating the crisis and revealing itself incapable
of improving the condition of the whole of humanity, the current
economic and political systems, as well as the technologies upon
which they are based, have shown their obsolescence. The only
way to prepare for the twenty-first century will be to challenge
the validity of the current systems and develop alternatives,
which will be capable of closing the fault lines that coming tremors
in the world order promise to breach. That is to say, to enable
all of humanity to feel part of global society, with equal opportunity
to live in dignity.
It is nonetheless not at all clear that the
world is embarking on this route. In organizing, since the beginning
of the 1990s i.e. since the end of the geopolitical polarization
brought about by the Cold War, a series of international conferences
and summits with the goal of sketching out a «new world order,»
the United Nations has indeed attempted to enlist the international
community in the search for solutions to the various aspects of
the crisis. But parallel to this is the consolidation of another
very real order, based on the resort to force and the simple logic
of narrow national interest. The limits of Copenhagen summit's
timid and half-way resolutions, which contrasted sharply with
the hopes raised by its convening, show that, for the moment,
the obstacles to the forging of planetary society based on a democracy
with a strong social character have yet to be lifted.
(Translated from French by Arun Kapil)
Olympe AHLINVIDE. Professor. Centre Panafricain de Prospective Sociale. Porto Novo, Benin.
Peter ALTHEID. Professor. Sociologist. Centre for Advanced Technologies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Helle Mukerji ANDERSEN. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
John ANDERSEN. Centre on Integration and Social Differentiation. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Maj-Britt ASLUND. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Maria Inacia d'AVILA NETO. Professor. UNESCO Chair for Durable Development. Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Henrik BAK. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Laura BALBO. Professor. Institute of Philosophy. University of Ferrara, Italy.
Tania BARROS DE FREITAS MACIEL. Professor. University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Brian BARTON. Department of Economics. University of Quebec at Trois Rivières, Canada.
Maria Durvalina BASTOS. Professor. Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Anna BOESEN. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Simon BOLWIG. Centre for Development Research. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Thomas P. BOJE. Professor. Department of Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Karin BRÿNNUM. Centre on Integration and Social Differentiation. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Ajit BHALLA. ILO. International Institute of Labour Studies. Geneva, Switzerland.
Luc CAMBREZY. ORSTOM. Paris, France.
Michael CERNEA. Sociologist. Senior Adviser. World Bank. Washington, DC, USA.
Jacques CHARMES. Associate Director. Department of Societies, Urbanization, and Development. ORSTOM. Paris, France.
Christian COMELIAU. Professor. Institut Universitaire d'Etudes du Développement. Geneva, Switzerland.
Ann-Marie CONNOLLY. WHO. Regional Bureau for Europe, «Healthy Cities.» Copenhagen, Denmark.
Georges COURADE. ORSTOM. Paris, France.
CZESKLEBA-DUPONT. Department of Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Anna DAM. European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Valerie DENTEN. European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Faith DUBE. AIESEC. Centre on Integration and Social Differentiation. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Jean-Luc DUBOIS. ORSTOM. Paris, France.
Mahdi ELMANDJRA. Professor. Mohammed V University. Rabat, Morocco.
Louis EMMERIJ. Special Adviser to the President of the Inter-American Development Bank. Washington, DC, USA.
Martin FABIANSEN. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
José B. de FIGUEIREDO. ILO International Institute of Labour Studies. Geneva, Switzerland.
Francine FOURNIER. UNESCO. Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences. Paris, France.
Genoveva Maya FRUET. International Programme for Development Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Benoit GAILLY. European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Sergio GOEZ Y PALOMA. European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Maria de Fatima GOMES. Professor. Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Cees GOOS. WHO. Interim Director, Regional Bureau for Europe. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Bent GREVE. Professor. Department of Social Sciences. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Simon GROTH. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Trevor HANCOCK. Consultant in public health. Ontario, Canada.
Bente HALKIER. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Andreas Wester HANSEN. Department of Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Birgitte Steen HANSEN. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Jette HANSEN. Geography and Communication. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Barbara HARRELL-BOND. Director. Programme for the Study of Refugees. Oxford University, Great Britain.
Lajos HETHY. Secretary of State, Ministry of Labour. Budapest, Hungary.
Anders HINGEL. European Commission. DG-XII. Brussels, Belgium.
Mogens HOLM. Centre for Development Research. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Helge HVID. Professor. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Erling JELSØE. Professor. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Per Homann JESPERSEN. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Peter JOENSEN. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Douglas JOHNSON. Johnson International. Hvidovre, Denmark.
Wambui KAMARA. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Geogre KATROUGALOS. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Ali KAZANCIGIL. UNESCO. Director, Division of Social Sciences, Research and Policy. Executive Secretary, MOST Programme. Paris, France.
Kristine Vik KLEFFEL. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Richard KNIGHT. Professor. Faculty of Architecture. University of Genoa, Italy.
Jesper LASSEN. ,Professor. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Nina LAURITZEN. Centre for African Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Albert LEE. European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Casper LITTRUP. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Thomas LØVSHOLT. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Maj MANCZAK. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Pietro P. MASINA. European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Martino MAZZONIS. European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Niels I. MEYER. Professor. Department of Physics. Technical University of Denmark. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Troels MIKKELSEN. Department of Administration. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Inge-Lise NIELSEN. Teacher. JÊgerspris, Denmark.
Kurt Aagaard NIELSEN. Professor. Department of Sociology. University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
John NKINYANGI. UNESCO. Division of the Social Sciences, Research, and Policy. MOST Programme. Paris, France.
Lene OKHOLM. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
José Vilhena de PAIVA. Vice-Rector, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Philippe van PARIJS. Professor. Faculty of Economics, Politics, and Social Sciences. Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.
Anne Sprog¯e PETERSEN. HIB II. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Gert PETERSEN. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
K ° are PETERSEN. Department of Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Patoommat PHANCHANA. European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Louise PIHL. Institute of Political Science. University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Maya PINTO. University of Bath, Great Britain.
Aurora PUCCIO. European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Henrique RATTNER. Director, Programme on the Environment and Durable Development. University of Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Sixto K. ROXAS. Foundation of Community Organization and Management Technology (FCOMT). Quezon City, Philippines.
Marianne ROY. University of Quebec at Montreal, Canada.
Vladimir RUKAVISHNIKOV. Professor. Institute of Political and Social Research. Academy of Sciences. Moscow, Russia.
Ignacy SACHS. Director of Studies. Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Paris, France.
Inaki Heras SAIZARBITORIA. European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Antonella SANTORSOLA. European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Peter SCHÖNHÖFFER. Pax Christi. Münster, Germany.
Karen Prochnow SLETTEN. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Inger STAUNING. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Sunniva ØVERLAND. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Francesca TAMBORINNI. European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Alberto TAROZZI. Professor. Department of Sociology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
François VEDELAGO. Institut Michel de Montaigne. University of Bordeaux-III, France.
Habiba H. WASSEF. WHO. Geneva, Switzerland.
WEI Li . European Programme on Society, Science, and Technology. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
Jorge WILHEIM. Assistant Secretary-General. HABITAT II. Nairobi, Kenya.
Jacob YTTESEN. Department of the Environment, Technology, and Social Studies. University of Roskilde, Denmark.
1. When the words of the participants cited are taken from their conference paper or remarks made during the debates, no bibliographic reference is specified.
4. See J. Figueiredo, J.P. Lachaud and G. Rogers, «Poverty and Labour Markets in Developing Countries», in New Approaches to Poverty Analysis and Policy, vol. 2 (Geneva: International Institute of Labour Studies, 1995).
7. See Poverty, Unemployment and Exclusion in the Countries of the South: Reflections from the Royaumont Seminar as a Contribution to the Work of the World Summit on Social Development (Paris: ORSTOM, 1995)
17. Institut Universitaire d'Etudes du Développement «Pour un développement social différent, recherche d'une méthode d'approche.» Report of a working group in view of the social sommit of Copenhagen (Geneva: IUED, 1995).
18. See Rolph van der Hoeven, «Structural Adjustment, Poverty and Macro-Economic Policy,» in New Approaches to Poverty Analysis and Policy, vol. 3 (Geneva: International Institute of Labour Studies, 1995).
Social indicators have to be formulated at distinct scales reflecting accurately social organization and economic structuring. These indicators willbe macro-economic and macro-social, meso-economic relating to communities (obtained through community inquiries) and social groups (notably the target groups of social policy), and micro-economic (relating to households and individuals). We have to go beyond external descriptive indicators (such as school enrolment rates) and incorporate indicators that measure mechanisms such as those by which skills are transmitted. The definition of target groups needs to be refined since each category covers a wide range of concrete situations requiring responses that are tailor suited to each case. Policies of integration involve families, but the observation of such a unit is a particularly sensitive task. Family cycles need to be observed, for domestic situations are particularly complex in conditions of precariousness.
A distinction needs to be made between the use of synthetic indicators such as the HDI (Human Development Index, calculated by the UNDP) and the use of a variety of simple indicators. Synthetic indicators, because of the weighting operations required as far as each simple component is concerned, are theoretically unstable. Indeed, any change in the weighting system alters the value of the indicator concerned and softens its contribution to multidimensionality. Besides, the number of simple indicators may soon become too great for being of any use in decision-making. It is therefore necessary to establish a hierarchy of indicators and define priorities in terms of the goals pursued.
In order to prepare the indicators required, it is therefore necessary to identify explicitly objectives by considering the various aspects of poverty in its spatial/temporal dimension as a function of the fields of study and sectors that are deemed to be social or to have a high social impact. Insofar as indicators are useful instruments for keeping track of social life, they need to be elaborated and, simultaneously, integrated into a methodological framework that endows them with maximal coherence. In this context, social accounting should become the counterpart of economic accounting and facilitate a comprehensive follow-up of the situation.
ORSTOM, op. cit.
That being so, we have the impression of being caught up in an attitude of survival for survival's sake (remain in the market; keep our job and what goes with it; prevent the foreign competitor or just the immigrant from taking our place). "The other" immediately becomes suspect as a potential source of destabilization, hence the threat to our survival, even in the deepest recesses of our identity.
Having the most efficient and cheapest tool that meets the needs of the richest, most solvent markets becomes, in this context, the best means of ensuring (micro) survival. Salvation lies in the tool! Innovation on and by the tool and competitiveness in and by the price and quality (defined in technical and financial terms) of the tools emerge as the only effective and apparently legitimate regulators of the war of survival.
The prevailing thinking on innovation and the obsessive cult of competitiveness have had a big hand in developing and spreading this "survival psychosis" and "war culture". The values emphasized by the theorists and practitioners of innovation and globalization through competitiveness are values centring on power (financial in particular), force (idea of conquest and mastery), struggle (to which the inevitable instances of co-operation between individuals, organizations and countries must also be subjected), aggressiveness and cynicism (mors tua vita mea). Admittedly, one could say that there is apparently nothing new on the scene of human history and societies. Yet there is something new in that, for the first time, such an attitude has assumed a worldwide, global dimension, that of the totality of human history, in a context of real potentiality, on the one hand, and of the total self-destruction of human society (as a result of nuclear energy) and of the general manipulation of the living (with the new advances of genetic engineering), on the other.
Being regarded as the principal force in technological, industrial and economic innovation on which the future of a city, a region or a country depends, and as the only organization capable of "managing" the globalization of the economy, the enterprise is becoming the force which makes culture, i.e. which shapes the value systems of a society and an era and fixes the rules of the game and the way in which the world economy is to be steered and managed with the backing of the State and of all the public authorities (local, national and international). There are compelling interests on either side in favour of the alliance.
From one OECD country to another, in different forms, the same logic thus operates, with available resources being mobilized for the sake of the short- and medium-term commercial success of "national" enterprises, particularly the strongest, the "winner" in the world markets. What we have is a massive transfer of public resources in favour of private enterprise, mainly multi-national, to enable them to stay competitive in the most profitable solvent markets.
The enterprise is acquiring a new historical legitimacy inasmuch as it has been vested by the State with the function of defending. and promoting the well-being of the "local" society, while ensuring its own success on the world scene. In the face of the "world" society, it claims an additional legitimacy by presenting itself as the only organization capable of guaranteeing, at the world level, the best management of available material and non-material resources. In so doing, the enterprise privatizes and internationalizes for its own purposes the social role of the State. In addition, it does so repeatedly, in each of the countries where it can lay claim to a predominant place in the local landscape. What is more, and failing a world State, it also privatizes the function of organizing the world economy.
Riccardo Petrella, op. cit.
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