As exposed previously (in the article 4 tips to improve Public Participation) public participation is embedded in four major pillars: the usage of an easy and effective engagement platform, the effective and reciprocal communication between parties involved, incentives for the participation in multiple activities, and the engagement in network communities.
Although public participation and social inclusion are basic human rights, some categories of individuals are more penalized than others. Especially, referring to refugees or asylum seekers, public participation and social inclusion can be lacking within the host society welcoming them. How should then WeSolve, other social organizations and municipalities improve the inclusion of every single individual, refugees and not? With this article I will provide a brief overview on the definition of social exclusion and how social inclusion can be promoted taking into account its importance and effects.
Starting with a brief definition, social exclusion is described by the United Nations as following:
”Social exclusion is a complex and multi-dimensional process. It involves the lack or denial of resources, rights, goods and services, and the inability to participate in the normal relationships and activities, available to the majority of people in a society, whether in economic, social, cultural or political arenas. It affects both the quality of life of individuals and the equity and cohesion of society as a whole” (United Nations, chapter 1)
As understood from the quotation, social exclusion not only has a major impact on the personal needs but it depicts the cohesion of the society as a whole.
As refugees and asylum seekers have been forced to move due to different reasons (war, climate change), host countries have become less welcoming, causing difficulties to foreign individuals to enter and feel integrated. Especially with the rise of the right-wing in Europe, refugees have been experiencing inequalities and have been excluded from the public participation or the social inclusion in multiple societal spheres.
Although the aforementioned phenomena has found a solid ground in Europe, the importance of social inclusion and its effects are proven and recognized.
Social inclusion, in the nineteenth century, has started assuming major importance within societies thanks to Weber, father of political sociology and exponent of the term, human freedom (Prager,1981).
Weber was theorizing that democracy is the best political system to improve social inclusion and thus basic human rights concerning the social, economic and political sphere.
Social inclusion as aforementioned has not only become prominent with Weber but the concept has acquired relevance in the last few decades, especially when the refugee crisis has become more prominent and pressing for the Global North.
Inclusion thus is not only a basic human right to which democratic societies, governments and citizens need to stick but different policies are needed for cementing this concept within the culture of a society.
Three are the step to follow for a successful implementation (European Social Network, 2020):
1. The first one requires Consideration – consideration towards the needs of every individual. Everyone should be able to speak their voice and be heard.
2. The second requirement is related to the provision of equal human rights. Everyone has the right to housing, employment, education and services mandatory for the well-being of the single individual.
3. The last one is participation. Enabling participation, improves the communication tools between different parties and allows local ideas to become prominent in the governmental political agenda and thus in the following decision-making processes.
Finally, social inclusion is more than all these features. It is a tool for empowerment. Empowerment values differences and diversity, and thus enables a society to flatten its inequalities and disparities by improving social cohesion and participation of refugees and local citizens.
Furthermore, apart from empowering individuals, knowledge will be widened. Individuals with different backgrounds and mindsets can provide better results and outcomes putting into practice their past and acquired know-how by sharing beliefs, values and ideas in collaboration to other societal parties.
Prager J.(1981) Moral integration and political inclusion: A comparison of Durkeim’s and Weber’s Theories of democracy, 59(4), pp.913-950
European social network(2020) How to promote social inclusion at the local and regional level? [online]published:https://www.esn-eu.org/news/how-promote-social-inclusion-regional-and-local-level
United nations, Identifying social inclusion and exclusion, chapter 1,pp. 1-16