Nyomtatóbarát változat
Introductory speaches on the 'Building Civil Society in Europe through Community Development' International Conference - Budapest, 25-28 March 2004
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Information on the 'Building Civil Society in Europe through Community Development' - International Conference - Budapest 25-28 March 2004
Raktári jelzet:


Koos Vos (Netherlands)

The Dutch Case

The post-World War II reconstruction of the Netherlands implied a social policy and in particular a community development policy formulated at the national level and implemented in urban localities and rural regions. During the period 1945 – 1960 community development was seen as an instrument to combat the disrupting consequences of industrialization and modernization. The cultural elites, vertically differentiated along religious and ideological lines (roman catholic, protestant, social – democratic, liberal), feared the creation of an anonymous society leading to moral decay and the rise of antisocial elements. In those days there was no legal basis for community development in the strict sense of the word.
During the 1960s and 1970s, secularisation and individualization occurred in Dutch society in a context of growing economic prosperity. These processes led to a tumbling down of the above compartmentalized social structure, including the social welfare agencies of different denominations at a national level. This collapse had severe consequences for the social services in the voluntary and community sector. Until the middle of the 1970s, the Ministry of social welfare produced policy papers on community development as such. But from that point in time the objective of the national government became the decentralisation of the social services. This objective implied that in particular local government – municipalities – not only got the task to execute all kinds of social work, including community development, but they were also obliged to develop a local policy themselves, given the supposition that local administrators could better design a tailor-made policy.
It took until 1994 before the law on social welfare provided a legal basis for this decentralisation. Community development is seen as also subsuming social cultural work (This is an issue of debate between the Landelijk Centrum Opbouwwerk – the National Centre of Community Development – and the association of employers in the social sector). Community development was flourishing during the 1970s and the early 1980s. Community development workers played a significant role as enablers of residents groups and committees during the process of urban renewal in particular in a big city as Rotterdam. In the early 1980s, the Netherlands experienced a severe economic crisis giving birth to high rates of unemployment, and, coupled with right of centre governments and criticisms of social services, cut-backs were made on social welfare provisions. The objective of this cut-back policy was to restore the economic structure.
In the second half of the 1980s onwards, a new policy towards social renewal emerged and eventually the social policy of the national government provided a positive ground for community work. From research can we see that there has been a gradual change from ‘social welfare policy’ to local social policy. A closer look at local social policies shows that there are four main themes: protection of the vulnerable, social integration and livability, generating capital goods like paid work and education and culture and recreation. Since 2003, the Netherlands has been governed by a centre – right cabinet with a programme of the most severe cut-backs ever. The social welfare department within the Ministry of Health, Social Welfare and Sports (Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport) has been reduced to a minimum and the directorate of Social Welfare has been renamed as the directorate of Social Care.
The talk will illustrate in more detail the above policy trends and discuss some current issues confronting community development such as accountability and professional space to manoeuvre. In the last part of the paper some remarks will be made about the (non-) existence of community development principles in policy documents of the European Union. Finally, the paper will present some statements about goals and action that could be taken at different levels to create a fertile policy climate for community development.


Katalin Tausz (University of Budapest, Hungary)

I will be talking about the dilemmas and perspectives of community development training in a post-socialist society.
This introductory talk intends to put community development training into a broader social and historical perspective. This part of the presentation will focus on the changing nature and that of the meaning of communities, the rebirth of the civil society and the tension between the rhetoric and the reality.
After World War II, due to the dominance of the communist ideology and the political system, community development had a special meaning as well as practice in the state socialist countries. Training social professionals was missing from the palette of higher education. A short introduction will be presented into the history of training of social professions in state-socialist and post-socialist countries to illustrate the function and significance of community-oriented training provision in the educational system. A special emphasis will be put on the role of the historical traditions, the nature of the post-socialist political system, the power relations, the ideological orientation, on the training tradition imported by western advisers and the reasons for the pre-dominantly case-work orientation. This way, workshop participants may have a better understanding of the divide between the ‘field’ and the ‘academic’ world, and that of the role of community development or community social work in the training of social professionals.
In the second main part of the presentation, some important dilemmas will be analysed such as :
– how to organise high quality training for practitioners given the lack of time, financial and human resources in the framework of higher education;
– what is community development practice: social policy or social work?;
– where to train community development experts: on specialised training courses, on graduate or post-graduate level;
– who should outline the training standards and evaluate the outcome?: the interaction between the communities and the educational authorities;
– employment chances and the motivation of the students;
– a new challenge: the Bologna process and the training of social professionals as well as community development experts.


Alan Barr (University of Glasgow, Scotland)

A review of community work in the U.K. 30 years ago, commented:
‘British Community workers tend to put great value on becoming engaged with people and problems and getting into action as soon as possible. When I speak of neglect of structure I refer to such things as systematic problem analysis, the identification of action or programme goals, the building of organisations and communication systems …and skills for evaluation and review.’ (Specht. H. 1975: ‘Dilemmas of Community Work in the United Kingdom’, Policy and Politics Vol 4 No 1)
In many ways this description has remained relevant. It highlighted weaknesses in: understanding the context of practice; developing clear visions of the intended outcomes; developing coherent action plans and implementation systems and, evaluating and learning from performance. For an occupation that describes itself an enabler of change and development, those are major weaknesses. Trying to address them has been a central concern of the Scottish Community Development Centre since it was established in 1994 as a partnership between the U.K. Community Development Foundation and the University of Glasgow.
In part this has been done by its own direct research into the character and quality of community development practice. This research has confirmed that in Scotland, as in other parts of the U.K., too little has changed. During the 1990s, as the Centre was becoming established, government and other funders of community development were increasingly calling for evidence of the outputs and outcomes of performance. In this climate, the Centre took the view that the identified weaknesses of practice represented a serious threat that needed to be addressed by the development and application of effective planning and evaluation tools. However it was strongly committed to promoting approaches that would be compatible with the participatory and empowerment principles and values of community development itself.
Two closely related tools were developed: Achieving Better Community Development (ABCD) for the U.K. and Ireland as a whole and later, LEAP –Learning Evaluation and Planning, a specific adaptation for the Scottish context.
More recently the Centre has worked with the Scottish government regeneration agency (Communities Scotland) to develop an initiative to support communities to undertake their own research and evaluation. This is known as SCARF (the Scottish Community Action Research Fund).
The workshop presentation will draw on the experience of this work to illustrate the approach that has been taken and to highlight issues that have arisen. In particular it is intended to lead to:
– sharing of experience about the integration of participatory evaluation and research into community development practice,
– reflection on why there is resistance to an evidenced based approach to practice and what should be done about it.


Speech 1.
Liz Sullivan (Head of Projects, Combat Poverty Agency)

What is Rural Community Development
– Roots of rural community development in Ireland
– Definitional issues
* rural community development/rural development/local development/social partnership
* spatial/targetted approaches
* power and participation - balancing status quo with new ways of working
* rural/urban models and approaches – commonalities and differences
Social and Economic Context
– Agricultural change
– Demographic change
– Emigration/depopulation
– Unemployment/under-employment
– Centralised policy and decision making/weak local democracy
– Balance/tensions- representative and participative democracy
Key Issues
– High levels of poverty, in which particular groups e.g. smallholders, the elderly, people with disability are most at risk
– Invisibility/dispersal/isolation/individualisation
– Remoteness from/lack of access to services
– Unemployment/underemployment
– Poor housing
– Poor educational facilities
– Inadequate infrastructure – transport/childcare/information
Challenges for Rural Community Development
– Unique role of community development
– Targeting the most excluded
– Balancing consensus and challenge/conflict
Features of Good Practice

Speech 2.
Marion Horton (Freelance researcher, U.K.)

This presentation will consider the complexities of rural communities and the valuable part community development has to play in their regeneration and in social exclusion policies. The inequalities within British rural communities are hidden behind a multifaceted ‘jewel’ of scenery, outdated ideas of status and hierarchies, prejudice and racism. Farm incomes have dropped dramatically and farmers are working longer hours as few can afford to employ farm workers. The European Union has dominated the direction of policy in recent years with CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) and structural funds e.g. LEADER, and EU Objective Status 5b (where enormous amounts of funding went unspent). Relevant also is the impact of more recent national emergencies of BSE in cattle, scares about scrapies in sheep and Foot and Mouth disease. Policy has been made in an atmosphere of crisis or within a plethora of government re-organisations and refocusing to the extent that it is felt that the British Government has abandoned a farmer-led agricultural economy.
In order to alleviate some of the problems of low incomes, farmers have been encouraged into ‘diversification’. Women have, in the main, led economic diversification, learning new skills and using technology and the Internet to establish new businesses. Area-led diversification depends upon the whole community working together and a collective new vision of the future. Community development techniques have been developed to work in the rural economy and with poor farmers and to highlight pockets of poverty, and deprivation. The status quo, which has been propped up by the lack of rural research, is being addressed and attention is being turned to develop specific rural indicators of deprivation and social exclusion.
Rural community development with a focus on process, not just outcomes, has a vital role to play and has a good track record. Short-term campaigns to keep open local industries have been successful. Rural housing initiatives have shown benefits for local people, social transport initiatives have proved their worth and economic developments through community enterprises, community development trusts and village shops and public houses (bars) being owned by the whole village have enormous social and economic benefits.

The villages of the former coalfields areas in the north and Midlands also present enormous challenges for policy-makers and perhaps more importantly for community development. These communities with problems of deprivation, high unemployment, poor health and ageing population issues, housing problems, social and geographical isolation, are still in transition. Policies, which focus on multi-disciplinary work within the public sector and highlighting the importance of community development processes are being developed and implemented.
Local circumstances, the history, context and potential for local people to address their problems are central to good policy-making. Social policy made across the European Union, which does not take account of how policy can be implemented in rural communities can never be good policy. The presentation will therefore highlight the importance of good practice exchange and developing positive ways of working across rural networks, influencing each other as well as decision-makers.


Stewart Murdoch (Dundee City Council, Scotland)

The workshop will include a brief description of the City of Dundee as the context for looking at community development and Urban Regeneration in Scotland.
Dundee is a small city which grew rapidly through its prominence as a textile centre. The collapse of textiles, shipbuilding, heavy engineering, manufacturing and assembly have had equally dramatic consequences for the economy of the City. The percentage of the City’s population, who are in the poorest 10% in Scotland, is second only to Glasgow and is in sharp contrast to neighbouring Authorities. The City has maintained a commitment to supporting a community development. In all of its recent community development and urban regeneration practice, it has sought to reconcile the tensions between the role of local government, the local elected member, community involvement, and “the creation of a vibrant City where every citizen’s contribution to community life and community learning is valued”. This paper is in four different sections:

Part 1 Integration and disintegration
– A chronology of community development policy in Scotland
– A summary of the way in which an occupational sector developed between the 1960’s and 2004, bringing together youth work, adult learning and community development…. and then?
Part 2 Comprehensive redevelopment to Community Planning
– A chronology of urban regeneration policy over the same period 1960–2004.
– A brief summary of regeneration initiatives, the increasing recognition that community involvement is essential and the struggle to find organisational arrangements for the delivery of sustainable regeneration.
Part 3 Putting the Community into the Policies
– A snapshot of the policies adopted by government to encourage…. ensure that communities are brought into the urban regeneration process.
– The legislative and policy arrangements aimed at giving a voice to communities.
Part 4 Some reflections on practice
– what helped?
– what hindered?
– what challenges remain?
The socio-economic profile of Dundee has resulted in a set of circumstances which were always going to be difficult to change.The continuing commitment on the part of the local authority to fund and support community development and invest in urban regeneration in Dundee stands out as a key feature. The scale of urban change and the manner in which some of the area renewal projects were delivered, however, had the effect of alienating people from ‘their’ local authority. Over the last decade the emphasis placed on partnerships, community involvement and tackling inequalities has started to change the relationship between citizens and the ‘local state’. The image of the City abroad has also begun to change. We still have some way to go, however, if this City is to become a network of healthy, thriving, self-sufficient communities where people choose to live because of the quality of life.


Peter Kajner (Hungary)

All is One: Only Healthy Communities Can Build
a Sustainable Future

The environment of man – contrary to accepted opinions – is not ’a universe of objects existing in the external world’, but a system of manifold interactions with the living and inorganic elements of the surrounding world, which man falls into to sustain his/her life. The relationship of man to his environment is never direct (as it is e.g. for an animal), but conscious, spiritual. We perceive the world by the logic and system of language, that is a common result of communities, the society. So, our relationship with our environment depends decisively on what we think of ourselves within the framework of social discourse (who we think we are), and what we think about the relationship to the surrounding world. The relationship of a community is also determined by the picture formed by it about itself and on the relationship to the world. There are not any environmental problems, which occurred because someone would have set out with the purpose of contaminating air, or water or to make certain species extinct. These phenomena are rather consequences or externalities of social malfunctions. So, instead of environmental problems we should talk about social problems.

The history of civilization is a history of individualization, man believes to be increasingly independent from nature. However, the domination of nature is only a tool for and a derivative of the effort to dominate other people. Men’s relationship to nature reflects the order in society. Individualism culminates in the modern era, although, in reality, our dependency on nature is not any weaker than at any time in history. People of modern societies relate to each other, as well as to their natural environment functionally (they consider it and each other as resources). As the analytical approach dominates the recognition of the world, the most important rules of both nature and society remain hidden. (Though, there have always been societies existing along with those civilized societies, whose concept of the world has not been such fragmented, and which remained capable of viewing the world as a whole and living in harmony with it).

Destruction of nature, therefore is the result of society’s wrong self-interpretation and operation. The degradation of communities, individualism, the fragmentation of society make people unable to recognize the natural order of the world. According to the principle “all is one” (Hermes Trismegistos), the world is a complex system, the elements and processes of which can only be interpreted in relation with each other. Hence, the rehabilitation of communities and their natural environments is only possible together, according to the rules of nature. The attempt to rehabilitate any of them is set for failure, unless done with this point-of-view.

This realization has many effects regarding the methodology of community development:

a) The community development process should not concentrate on the development of the community only, but must also consider whether the relationship between the local community and its natural environment and local resources is sustainable. If not, a sustainability plan must also be devised.
b) Community decisions are not always correct. It could only be so in the case of healthy communities – and we should ask is community development necessary in that case? Nowadays, when basic knowledge about our environment is lost, communities do not always make the right decisions. During the CD process, laws of nature must also be presented and sustainability examined.
c) The community developer cannot be impartial to values. At the same time, sustainability should not be forced rather presented through community education: lost skills, which are the main reason for degradation, must be re-learnt by people.
d) Because of this, it is questionable whether a community developer can remain an outsider. According to Goethe “You should only give advice in matters you wish to participate.” Even if participation does not mean absolute commitment, follow-up is inevitable.
The necessity of the parallel development of community and its environment is usually evident to the community involved, by instinct. It’s a common experience that the first actual result of the community development process is the rehabilitation (or creation) of an important, local, natural or cultural asset. Often the environmental problem itself brings people together and initiates a spontaneous self-organization (e.g. protest against building over a park). A comprehensive international study of the Countryside and Community Research Unit of the University of Gloucestershire (conducted by Paul Selman) found no occurrences of ’communities at large’ managing their ’local environment (landscapes) at large’, they are rather enthusiastic about specific issues – managing e.g. micro-landscapes and single/limited feature landscapes. Two initiatives in Hungary also sprang from the importance of parallel development.

“Protect the Future” is a Hungarian NGO, whose goals are to preserve natural and cultural diversity, strengthen the sense of responsibility for our environment and to foster creating conditions for a life of a better quality. One of their most important initiative is the Representation of Future Generations (ReFuGe), which assisted the solution of environmental problems in several communities. The protection of common values and the representation of long-term interests has helped the self-organization of communities in most cases. The main profile of “Protect the Future” is neither environmental protection, nor community development. It aims to give answers and provide alternatives in many fields, e.g. animal protection, alternative economic development, globalization, European integration, running a literary and debating society etc.

Another important example of the linked environmental and community development is the “Last Straw” landscape rehabilitation programme. Its goal is to stop and reverse the ecological, economical and social degradation of the Bodrogköz region in Northern Hungary by changing the unsuitable water management and economic system, altogether with the use of the land. The landscape rehabilitation programme aims to solve the problem of retention and regulated spread of water by the rehabilitation of local waterways and supply them with water from the rivers Tisza and Bodrog. The mosaic-like landscape structure, the enrichment of economic systems, e.g. with forestation, lay the foundations of flood-area farming, which can lead to a sustainable economy on the long run. The programme is run by BOKARTISZ, a non-profit organization formed by 12 municipal councils and three Hungarian NGOs. The development of the local ecological system and of the community are of equal importance within the programme.


Speech 1.
Ewa Smuk Stratenwerth (Stowarzyszenie Cal and Stowarzyszenie Ziarno, Poland)

A human being dies twice, first when she stops learning, second time – for good…
The same slogan can be used for community. Nowadays in the time of technology and information revolution, in a global society, the importance of life-long learning cannot be underestimated. Humans and communities, which will not join the mainstream of changes by learning of new ways and methods in old human society are threatened with isolation and marginalisation.
In the European tradition we have several tested and well-rooted systems of life-long learning. Here I will refer to two of them which in our context seem to be most appropriate.
One is the 150 years-old Scandinavian tradition of folkhighschools, developed in rural Denmark by the visionary of his times Nicolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig. The folkhighschools still flourish in many European countries, particularly in Scandinavia, where they proved to be a useful and creative tool for adult education in the changing world. And though more than 150 years have passed since their origin, they seem to be very modern in the nature of the basic methods:
– a holistic approach, which in modern terms could be presented as the use of the multiple intelligence in methodology
– partnership between teachers and students
– importance of personal enlightenment, awakening of self-motivation and understanding for further development
– education for democracy and the importance of team work.
The second European tradition of equal importance is the English experience in community development, also rooted in the nineteenth century.
We have tried to apply these two traditions in today’s Polish society to develop modern methods which could be useful in community development. We have been testing a method of CAL (centers of community activity) in about 130 centers all over Poland for the last 5 years (Association CAL).
Recently we have initiated an international programme, supported by EU, Socrates –Grundtvig, of “Rural Educational Centers for a sustainable future” with the purpose of testing the Scandinavian methodology of folkhighschools as well as British experience in adult education for sustainability in modern Central and Eastern Europe (Association ZIARNO). Now these methods are being tested in several places in Poland, Lithuania and Slovak Republic. We are trying to co-operate with academics with experience in evaluation to be able to trace the influence of these methods on personal and community development.
I would like to encourage other workshop participants to share with us their experience in life-long learning and its importance for community development in other cultural and social context.

Speech 2.
John Grayson (Northern College for Residential Adult Education, Barnsley, U.K.)

Current usage of the term ‘Lifelong Learning’ throughout the EU tends not to prioritise the policies and practice of community development. The presentation will argue for a much closer identification of community development with traditions of popular adult education in Europe and beyond.
Experience of programmes linking popular adult education and community development with NGOs (third sector organisations), social movements and community organisations in the ‘regeneration’ areas of the coalfields of the North of the U.K. will be described. The specific innovations and practice of a residential adult education college (a U.K. ‘folk high school’)in the former coalfields, and its transnational community development education work with Sweden and Hungary will be outlined.
Lessons for practice will be drawn from this experience for EU ‘Objective One’ areas and countries joining the EU in 2004.
The presentation will briefly consider the wider issues around fundamental changes in civil society and the Welfare State, and their implications for community development and adult education in Europe. A few of the key challenges and opportunities these changes present for work with NGOs, social movements, and community organisations will be outlined. The need for transnational adult education for activists, and research evidence on radical practice will be stressed.
A few questions will be raised as a conclusion about the political relationships between community development, popular adult education and state institutions at the level of the EU, national and local governments. The challenges of work with minority ethnic groups and refugees, with descriptions of some U.K. experience, will highlight the current responses of practice to the threats posed by the revival of racist politics throughout ‘fortress Europe’.


Margita Lukkarinen (Coop Consult Ltd, Kokkola, Finland)

There is a growing, common understanding that the development of the economy and of the knowledge society must be accompanied by social balance to ensure cohesion, equity and decreasing of poverty in Europe. In the policies that have been developed many efforts have been made in order to increase the participation between organised civil society and public authorities. National Action Plans for Employment and Social Integration drawn up by the EU Member States include objectives to gradually achieve full employment in Europe. Instruments and methods are created in order to integrate disadvantaged groups in society.
There is a requirement for better co-operation between public authorities and social and economic actors if social equity is to be achieved. Therefore it is essential to open the dialogue and include all potential actors. This seems especially important at a stage when the EU undergoing big changes and is expanding by welcoming ten new member states. We must use all means available in order to strengthen the capacity of all citizens and thus democracy.
The social economy has a valuable role in local employment development. It has a significant job generating potential. But it is particularly valuable in meeting local needs that are not yet satisfied effectively by the market or by existing public provision. It can also increase the employability of, and provide employment for many groups who are currently disadvantaged by the labour market. Building the social economy can also help increase the activation of civil society through encouraging participation. Main characteristics in the relation between social economy and local development are qualitative employment, growth of social capital, reinforced democracy/partnership between local authorities and social economy actors.
The importance of local level in employment policy and the role of social economy has been highlighted in several studies. Acting jointly with the private profit seeking sector and the public sector the social economy promotes social cohesion, fosters social capital, promotes civic participation, employment and new enterprises at local level. The social economy actors are important partners when developing local strategies and local welfare. Even though the experiences of involving the social economy in the partnerships for employment are very encouraging the social economy is not visible enough and not always recognized as a partner with potential. The local dimension of the European Employment Strategy has developed, starting from Delors´ white paper, where he draw attention to the value of local level and in particular to its potential in creating new sources of employment. Since that a range of experimental local employment initiatives were launched, such as The Third System and Employment, Territorial Employment Pacts, Local Social Capital.
The local dimension has evolved over time, and the focus and scope has become more important. It has been addressed in the European Employment Strategy and the Employment guidelines since 1998. In the National Action Plans across the European Union several actions have been developed to stimulate the social economy to target the emergence of services aimed at satisfying unmet needs and to foster local development. However, the review on the implementation of the Guidelines on local development in the NAPs show that better information and data is needed on the current size of the sector as well as on the potential of the new service areas to create employment. There is a need for explicit policies and strategies for the creation of new sources of employment, particularly in services not currently provided by private or public sectors and for which there is a deficient-demand. The NAPs contain very patchy information on initiatives in the new fields of employment and almost nothing on measures to overcoming the current deficiencies in demand for supporting viable and sustainable local initiatives in these fields.
According to the review it seems very important that the third sector is encouraged and supported to be a more mainstream player in local strategies for employment. In some countries the local and regional authorities responsible for social and health care services are forced to find new more efficient and economic solutions to deliver and finance services to people, to enable the most disadvantaged to gain some kind of gainful activity, or to create employment in areas devoid of mainstream companies and employers, such as peripheral neighbourhoods and remote rural areas. The employment potential of new service areas has been clearly argued in addition to their contribution to an improved quality of life of all citizens. It is important that the public authorities – national and regional governments, public employment services, development agencies – as well as the social economy networks and organisations themselves, make a deeper effort to establish the social economy as a viable mainstream partner in local strategies for development/employment. We must remember that jobs are found and lost at local level.
In the evaluation report of Third System and Employment, Campbell describes the potential contribution and the advantages of Third System in Local Employment Development. The advantages are the multiple objectives. Third systems may – or may not – include profitability as an objective. If they do they will be concerned to retain it. They are also committed to meet the needs of the users, their customers. Many Third System organisations also offer new, alternative forms of working with higher participation and involvement in the organisation. They build community confidence by recruiting locally and by identifying needs in a consultative way. They increase community involvement by giving local inhabitants greater voice in local decisions. Third system organisations also tend to be closer to the community and the people they serve in terms of geographical proximity, understanding of their needs, representation and accountability. Their flexibility combined with their knowledge of local needs enables them to test new ideas, methods, products and forms of service delivery. In the Nordic countries there are very interesting experiences for instance of nursery co-operatives owned and run by parents, or village co-operatives providing social and health care services to the inhabitants contracted by the municipality. As these actors are able to offer more targeted service than traditional players, they also can help to modernise the welfare system.
Third System also develops the focus of the local development process in two important ways. First it adds value by ensuring that equity and other ethical considerations enter the local development process. Secondly, it raises the larger question of what “post-industrial” local development policy would, could, or should like. It raises issues of the objectives and priorities of local development, the nature of decision making, the extent of local participation in local development, the nature of a “bottom up” approach and the role of local services in local development. The social economy plays a significant role in creating employment, quality jobs and inclusion of disadvantaged groups. Its participative structure and democratic way of acting gives citizens a voice and thus strengthens democracy. Social economy already has networks in Europe and in new member states. But social economy is not represented in social dialogue nor when employment/inclusive labour market is discussed at European level.
The social economy is composed of people centred organisations and enterprises based on democracy and solidarity and the valorisation of social, cultural and environmental resources. These civic values transcend the logic of profit seeking interests. The fields of the social economy are the social and democratic and participative enterprises, qualitative employment, social inclusion, local development and social protection. Those fields form a bas for a social economy concept responding to the needs and expectations of people. Rooted at local level the social economy has always promoted partnership and co-operation with the public sector, local authorities, trade unions and private companies. The partnerships on local, regional, national and European level have created favourable conditions for the growth of the sector.
As efficient enterprises and organisations they contribute in an important way to the economics of European countries. The social economy is thus an essential part of the European plural economy with a bottom up approach. Committed to global solidarity as well as corporate social responsibility, social economy players are in the process of developing a pluralistic and sustainable economy.


Carles Riera (Aep Desenvolupament Comunitari, Barcelona, Spain)

Our European society is more and more multicultural. On the one hand, migratory movements from non-European countries and on the other, the European Union composition and its enlargement process, contribute a continuous flow of territorial mobility that accelerates the cultural diversity in our cities. However, to talk about cultural pluralism we must take into account the progressive loss of cohesion in our societies, as well as the increasing diversification of group and individual identities related to changes in familiar structures, labour relationships, consumer habits and differentiation of values and beliefs. In this context, new habitants arrival of immigrant origin can’t be understood from the topic of new populations threatening the cohesion in our societies. Paradoxically, frequently they are new neighbours that encourage an increasing diversity but also a strong internal cohesion in relation to fragmentation and loss of cohesion in receiver societies.

Immigration adds diversity, but also examples of more community cohesion, to the challenge of social policies, which must search cohesion and equality in societies where the liberal modernity and globalisation has produced a strong uprooting. In this framework, the challenge raised to community development policies is harmonisation of the policies of equality and citizenship construction, with mediation to facilitate dialogue and solidarity co-operation among different social nets, over the base of territorial agreements of collaboration for different communities’ common objectives.
The problem and the debate, then, are about which will be the identity of social policies in societies with multiple identities, when the traditional uniforming function that social services has had no longer makes sense and redistributive policies become more complex. Effectively, it will be necessary to keep and reinforce redistribute and equality of opportunities policies, adapting them to more diversity of habitus, mediating to articulate nets and belonging links, negotiating agreements of coexistence and constructing shared projects in communities of territory.