Since the integrative function of the labour market in European post-industrial societies is seriously weakening, the significance of citizens' living area as a key environment of social integration becomes crucial. However, the living areas of European cities once built for working people of industrial society, do structurally ignore the comprehensive social needs of unemployed citizens of today. Consequently the processes of exclusion in European cities are a ticking social and economic time bomb, if the changed demand for living environment with options of participation cannot be responded to. To effect these processes on the local level of policy making, new analytical approaches for identifying the interrelation between social exclusion/integration and the quality of living environment are extreme necessary.
The main objective of the project is to influence the local policy making from the margialized people's point of view concerning social environment as a risk/ a resource for social integration in the context of different European urban areas.
The detailed objectives are:
- To provide effective methods of social work, that enable especially the unemployed citizens to improve their environment through participation (Social Action, Community Empowerment, Self-employment).
- To apply the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) as citizens' and social work's tool to influence city planning and local decision-making towards a new social sustainability ((re)constructions, service and traffic politics, space utilisation).
- To advance the European social work's theoretical knowledge on the ecosocial dimensions of exclusion processes in different urban contexts (combining the system theoretical and ecological approaches and the new urban poverty research).
To meet these objectives effectively, the innovative aspect of the project is its organisation based on an European and on local networks. Focused field projects are carried out in already existing successful local cooperation with scientific actors (researchers and educators) and end-users (social and youth workers, public authorities) in three countries (FI, DE-East, GB). These case and action research studies from different local contexts are systematically compared on the European level contributed by the Swedish expert (SE) on community work research.
The included cities represent different paces and states of modernisation of European post-industrial societies. British social work is already used to take place in multicultural environments with high rate unemployment. The British partners have excellent experiences in social action "from bottom up" in partnership with citizens.
Finland as a Scandinavian welfare state is now facing extremely high new unemployment and deep changes in welfare systems. The Finnish partners are pioneers of ecosocial approach especially in terms of developing SIA-Criteria and applying it by public authorities ("from top down"). The changes in East-Germany are analogous to Finland but even more dramatically due to the rapid re-construction of urban environment and the de-industrialisation. East-German social work is still open for different new concepts, and the East-German partners are specialised in models of ecosocial reform policies and in identifying the correlation between social exclusion and environment. These unique competencies of each partner directly contribute to the detailed objectives of the project and enable an innovative mutual European exchange.
The project's results on the European level will be advanced practicable models of social integration and policy making as well as a radical new theoretical perspective to social exclusion processes emphasising the ecosocial dimensions in social work.
These results are applicable in different kinds of European post-industrial urban areas, that all share the mentioned new urgent risks.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
LE7 9SU Leicester
LE1 6ZG Leicester