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The SOSTRIS project (Social Strategies in Risk Societies) drew on concepts of individualisation and reflexivity to explore the meanings of 'exclusion' in seven countries in modern Europe - Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden. Its first phase used socio -biographic methods to investigate six categories of risk: the early retired, single parents, ethnic minorities and migrants, unqualified youth, and ex - traditional workers. Its second phase ada pted this method to investigate 'flagship agencies' which were believed to be making innovative responses to problems of social exclusion.
In a state-of-the-art report, the project explored the concept of social exclusion as a 'political artefact' within the process of Europeanisation, and outlined the diversity of intellectual traditions which contribute to the framing of the concept. Its case studies led to a comparison of 'life journeys' in contemporary Europe, featuring the biographical resources avail able to different groups and generations in different social contexts, and their strategies and reflexive skills in negotiating between their aspirations, resources and opportunities. One of the most valuable emergent products of the study of life course transitions and of the experience of social tranformations has been the disclosure and elaboration of the distinctive qualities of each of the seven societies, through the dialogue of its researchers in comparing cases. The project points to rich potential use of case studies in the teaching of comparative social policy as well as in professional training.

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