UNESCO Social and Human Sciences
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From Social Exclusion to Social Cohesion:
Towards a Policy Agenda

International Symposium 2-4 March 1995 at Roskilde University

Organizer (RUC): Head of Department, Associate Professor Per Homann Jespersen
Organizational Manager: Cand.techn.soc. Birgitte Steen Hansen
Organizers from the participating organizations:
Ali Kazancigil, UNESCO; Josè B. De Figueiredo, IILS;
Habiba Wassef, WHO; Anders Hingel, EU D.G. XII;
Jacques Charmes, ORSTOM.

During three days in March 1995 an international symposium, entitled "From Social Exclusion to Social Cohesion", was held at Roskilde University. The symposium had about 100 participants from 5 continents. The encounter between the scientific community and decision makers with the operational experience of non-governmental organisations and the United Nations allowed the in-depth review of complex policy issues on the agenda of the Social Summit.

The three days of debate included the following themes.

From Social Exclusion to Social Justice
Chairman: Per Homann Jespersen, RUC.

Panellists: Louis Emmerrij, Special Adviser to the President of the Inter-American Development Bank; Niels i Meyer, Professor, Energy Group Department of Physics, DTU, Denmark; José B. De Figueiredo, Senior Research Officer, IILS; Ajit Bhalla, Senior staff Member, IILS.

Social exclusion, poverty, unemployment and growing inequalities within and among countries have become a worldwide problem. Achieving social justice lies at the base of all changes that need to be made in the world. A more just society, social equality, equity and human rights need to be accepted as important societal goals. The achievement of these goals can contribute to the wealth of a society. A new conceptual framework (like the "social exclusion" concept being elaborated by IILS) is needed to bring social and environmental problems in the focus of economic and political decisions.

The concepts of work, leisure and full employment have been changing over time. One of the major manifestations of social exclusion in Europe is the high rate of unemployment. A number of measures can be adopted to generate more productive employment. These include tax incentives supporting employment and penalising speculations; sharing of work; and new more environmentally benign production systems. There is need to clarify the nature of the trade off between economic growth and solving social and environmental problems.

Changing Life Styles in North and South
Chairman: Anders Hingel, EU DG XII.

Panellists: Olympe Ahlinvide, Professor, Panafrican Social Prospects Centre, Porto Novo, Benin; Ignacy Sachs, Director of Studies and of the Reasearch Centre on Contemporary Brazil, Paris, France.

The way people live in local communities, cities, regions and countries determines the nature of life styles and consumption patterns. Particular life styles are both cause and result of social exclusion. Wasteful consumption styles are the opposite of sustainability. Achievement of the goal of sustainable development calls for changes in life styles particularly in the North. New forms of relations are needed between producers on the one hand and consumers as individuals, on the other. Value systems need to change if life styles are to change. Changes in life style can also be ensured through the realisation of the potential of local communities.

In the South, consumption patterns of the rich are very similar to those in the North. However, a large majority of the population in the developing countries lives in poverty, and their consumption levels have to be raised. This will not only raise labour productivity but also make a better utilisation of human resources possible.

From Welfare State to Caring Society
Chairman: Ajit Bhalla, IILS

Panellists: Laura Balbo, Professor, Instituto Di Discipline Filosofiche, University of Ferrara, Italy; Madhi Elmandra, Professor, University of Mohamed V, Rabat, Marocco; Philippe van Parijs, Professor, Faculté des science économiques, sociales et politiques, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium; Bent Greve, Professor, Department of Social Science, Roskilde University.

The existing models of the welfare state in Western Europe are no longer sustainable: They are paternalistic, bureaucratic and centralised. The shift to more market-oriented economic systems makes it necessary to redesign those models. However, rethinking of the welfare state should not result in its total demise. Left to itself the market cannot remove economic and social inequalities. In both industrial and developing countries, the state has still a role to pay in the realm. However, it is necessary to envisage the strengthening of institutions which can provide incentives to people to become active citizens and to reduce their dependence on the state. Experiences from formal and non-formal institutions in developing countries should be strengthened and transferred. In general, the new system must stress incentives to keep people alert and active.

A caring society needs to provide for a balanced relationship between the state, the civil society and the individual. Such a society needs to ensure individual and community participation in decision making. The Roskilde Symposium reviewed a number of policy actions which can contribute to overcoming social exclusion.

Public and Private: New Partnerships
Chairmen: Jacques Charmes, ORSTOM; Christian Comeliau, Professor, Institut Universitaire dÉtude du Developpement, Geneva, Switzerland.

Panellists: Trevor Hancock, Public Health Consultant, Ontario, Canada; Lajos Hethy, Political Secretary of State, Ministry of Labour, Hungary; Vladimir Rukavishnikov, Professor, Institute of Socio-Political Research, Rusian Academy of Science; Kurt Aagaard Nielsen, Associate Professor, Department of Environment, Technology and Social Science, Roskile University;
Alberto Tarozzi, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Bologna, Italy.

New forms of partnerships between the state, the market and the civil society have to be found, given the failure of each of them considered separately. Tripartism must be expanded to associate the wider civil society into the decision making process. Popular participation and democratic governance can serve as important tools of planning and of "negotiated" economy, at a time when the legitimacy and the public support of social partners is openly being questioned in many countries.

In the necessary "collaborative triangle" established between the public sector, private business and civil society, social movements may build up elements of resistance. In this respect, the links between scientific "expert" knowledge and popular knowledge are of primary importance. But the problem of the "limits of democracy" is also raised because of the complexity of the mediations between a too much participatory consultation process and the process of decision making itself. There is a strong need for a balance mediation between the two. The role of the state should be further explored. A strong presence of the state is needed as a complement to and a correction of the market.

Making Cities Livable
Chairman: Dr. Cees Goos, Acting Director, WHO, Denmark.

Richard Knight, Professor, Facultá di Architetturaaa, university of Genova, Italy; Jorge Wilheim, Deputy Secretary General, United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, Nairobi, Kenya.

Mankind is in transition, especially in cities. Social development is being determined to a growing extent by the opportunities that cities offer to people, Half of the worlds population is already living in cities and ten cities have each more than ten millions inhabitants. As a result of globalization and other macro trends cities are changing in the way they function as major habitats for their people. In many instances, cities no longer provide the basic conditions for human development. Within cities, underprivileged populations are being excluded from opportunities for development. Cities continue to attract people from rural areas for economic reasons as well as for social and cultural reasons. More and more, cities are the refuge for displaced people.

A number of considerations for keeping and making cities livable have to be kept on the agenda for development in order to guarantee a good quality of life for citizens and to apply to all sub-populations. Such criteria would refer not only to basic human rights but also to the need to be part of the community in economic, psychological and social senses, and to have the opportunity to enjoy "the fruits of freedom". Positive functions of the city must be retained and must be strengthened. This will require new forms of organisation within cities and between cities. This requires another role of central governments and international agencies.

From Concept to Action - Concluding Session
Chairman: Francine Fournier, Ass. Dir.-General: Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO.

Panellists: Jorge Wilheim, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations centre for Human Settlements, Nairobi Kenya; Michael Cernea, Sociologist, Senior Adviser, World Bank;
Sixto K. Roxas, Foundation of Community Organization and Management Technology, Phillippines & Global NGO Forum.

Recommendations to the sponsoring organisations:

  • Boosting up community-based social support systems is needed to compensate for the growing ineffectiveness of the welfare state and the fragility of the social sector in many parts of the world.
  • To recognise and support community-based social welfare linking to the state sponsored system will create a more caring society that is more sensitive to the needs of the marginalised and the excluded.
  • We need new partnerships between government, the market and civil society. The state has the responsibility to enable people to be empowered.
  • Social scientists should take part in policy making. They should go beyond the traditional role of only providing data and actively influence policy formulation. Social scientists should devote more attention to providing assessments of programmes and 'projects which have failed', and the circumstances and processes which explain this failure and the implications for the society.
  • Important actions against poverty and social inequalities include provision of a 'basic income' to all people in society as well as fiscal incentives to employment creation and environmentally-benign production systems.
  • More effort must be made to hasten the 'period of transition' from marginalisation and social exclusion and to protect the vulnerable and disadvantaged of society from the negative effects of social transformations.

The main discussions and conclusions from the Symposium have been published in French, English and Spanish: 'De l'exclusion sociale à la cohésion sociale - Synthèse du Colloque de Roskilde' / 'From Social Exclusion to Social Cohesion: Towards a Policy Agenda - The Roskilde Symposium' / 'De la exclusión social a la cohesión social - Síntesis del Coloquio de Roskilde'. Written by Sophie Bessis, published by UNESCO, MOST - Management of Social Transformations: Policy Paper no 2. October 1995/ December 1995.

Roskilde University contributed with a booklet: 'Public and Private: New Modalities for Partnership between Social Actors' with articles written by: Kurt Aagaard Nielsen, Jesper Lassen, Inger Stauning, Helge Hvid, Oluf Danielsen and Henning Salling Olesen. Published by Roskilde University, March 1995.

    Birgitte Steen Hansen, Per Homann Jespersen

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