Promoting human development

Promoting Human Development


Conceptual framework

The goal of human development is to enable groups and individuals to exercise their choices to be what they want to be and do what they wants to do . It puts people at the center of the analysis and advocates for strategies that combine equity, efficiency, sustainability and empowerment. Social exclusion hampers choices and opportunities, thus reduce human development. Inclusion is therefore the goal to achieve, through economic, cultural, social and political processes and policies. Social inclusion and reducing social exclusion are therefore means of achieving human development by addressing the discrimination, powerlessness and accountability failures that lie at the root of exclusion. Social inclusion adds the process dimension of exclusion (the agents, groups, and institutions that exclude) to the human development concept.

Working definitions

  • Social exclusion refers to the processes which hamper people and group’s opportunities to exercise the full range of their choices as well as to the outcome of marginalization ensued. It results from direct or indirect discrimination rules and behavior, processes, policy, regulations, and institutional practices can impose, advertently or inadvertently against one or some groups of population compared to the others as well as from social traditions and values among different social groups of population. Social exclusion is multi-dimensional and often involves economic, political, cultural, social and spatial exclusion. Multiple deprivations often reinforce each other.
  • Social inclusion: The European Commission defines social inclusion as “a process which ensures that those at risk of poverty and social exclusion gain the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social and cultural life and to enjoy a standard of living and well-being that is considered normal in the society in which they live.
  • Human development refers to the process of enlarging people’s choices to be who they want to be and do what they want to do by expanding their capabilities and functioning. It refers to processes and outcomes of development about people, by people and for people.

The case of the ECIS

  • There are patterns of exclusion among individuals and groups in the ECIS region, based on their ascribed characteristics (gender, ethnicity, geographical location, language, religion, age, sexual orientation, beliefs and disability) or their achieved status ( income status, health status, employment, educational attainment, access and assets, etc)
  • Exclusion is manifested through and results in exclusions from political, social, cultural and economic life in societies.
  • Exclusion in one domain reinforces exclusion in others
  • Exclusion in the region is the result of the dynamic interaction between legacies, policies and institutions
  • Patterns of exclusion are hampering progress towards human development in the region, albeit or unevenly.
  • The analysis and policy prescriptions for the regional report can be informed by the experiences of the EU common social inclusion objectives and the “Open Method of Coordination” mechanisms.

The Regional Human Development Report for Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS for 2010 examines social exclusion in the region through the lens of human development. The report analyses the different facets and causes of social exclusion in Europe and the CIS region and provides recommendations for promoting social inclusion.

This chapter sets the scene by looking at the conceptual linkages between human development and social inclusion, analyzes social exclusion as a process and state of being excluded from the life of a community, and explores the potential of a social inclusion-based analysis to better understand and address the social dynamics of poverty and inequality in the ECIS region.

Part I: Human Development and Social Inclusion: An Analytical Framework

The concept of social inclusion, which is at the heart of social policy-making in regional institutions like the European Union, is very much congruent with the human development approach that has been advocated through UNDP global, regional and national human development reports since the 1990s.

The European Commission defines social inclusion as a process which ensures that those who are at the risk of poverty and social exclusion gain the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social and cultural life and to enjoy a standard of living and well-being that is considered normal in the society in which they live.

Social exclusion thus conversely refers to both the processes which hamper individuals’ and groups’ opportunities to exercise the full range of their choices and to the outcome of such processes. As a result, this bears a strong co-relation with the absence of human development, which by itself requires processes of enlarging people’s choices to realize their own potential by a heightened capability.

Together with the human rights framework, these approaches are all multi-dimensional and interlinked, and take into account all entitlements relevant for enlarging the choices of individuals to live a decent and meaningful life. In addition, they share a common concern about equity, non-discrimination and inclusive participation.

As this Report will argue, there are a multiplicity of exclusion patterns among individuals and groups in the ECIS region, based on myriad ascribed characteristics-linguistic, geographic, gender-based, economic, religious, educational, etc- which all reinforce each other. The inescapable consequence of such a vicious interaction leads to the denial of human development.

1. Human Development: A People-Centered Approach

The human development paradigm, founded in 1990 by Mahbub ul Haq, Amartya Sen, Frances Stewart, Paul Streeten and others and advocated through the UNDP Human Development Reports, sets itself apart from previous development theories by arguing that economic growth does not automatically trickle down to improve people’s well-being. Human development proceeds from the perspective of the individual, which, by virtue of his or her existence, has a moral right to develop his or her inherent capacities to the fullest extent possible and to exercise the greatest possible freedom of choice in shaping his or her own life within society.

As has been already argued in a series of global, regional and national Human Development Reports, The human development concept thus advocates putting people back at centre stage, both as the means and ends of development and defines the end of development as the expansion of human choices, freedoms and capabilities. In the words of Mahbub Ul Haq, “The basic purpose of development is to enlarge people’s choices. In principle, these choices can be infinite and can change over time. People often value achievements that do not show up at all, or not immediately, in income or growth figures: greater access to knowledge, better nutrition and health services, more secure livelihoods, security against crime and physical violence, satisfying leisure hours, political and cultural freedoms and sense of participation in community activities. The objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives” (Mahbub Ul Haq, 1990).

As Amartya Sen argues, economic growth provides one with the necessary passport to other ‘good’ things in life, but it is not an end in itself. Those ‘other’ things constitute the ‘quality’ of life which, in its turn, goes to expand people’s ‘capabilities’ and provide them with larger freedom and choice to embrace a kind of life that they may have “reason to value” (Sen 1999)

Human development thus emphasizes two simultaneous processes: One is the formation of human capabilities as an explicit development objective, the other is the use that people make of their acquired capabilities for functioning in society and fulfilling the choices they make in all aspects in their lives. It is therefore both a destination, a goal for social and political processes, as well as a road to get there, one that allows for ‘agency’ for people themselves.

While the human development concept avoids prescriptions and concentrates more on the ultimate goal of development, it suggests a simultaneous, not sequential achievement of five policy principles:

  • Efficiency/productivity: the optimal use of human capital through investment in the education, health, aspirations and skills of people as well as efficient use of resources and pro-growth policies.
  • Equity: distributive justice and the fair distribution of incomes and assets through equal access to opportunities
  • Sustainability: concern for not only present generations but future ones as well
  • Empowerment/participation: enabling people to attain a level of individual development that allows them to make choices close to their hearts. These choices can be developed through emphasising on developing freedom as both a constitutive value (value by itself) as well an instrumental value ( as a means to efficiency and to equity) (Sen)

With its emphasis on choices and freedoms, the significance of access to education, health care and other social services, as well as guarantees of basic political rights and freedoms, including gender equality and freedom of movement, and the ability to participate in the activities of the community with self-respect and without shame are highlighted. Lack of education, poor healthcare, inadequate economic possibilities, violation of political freedom, and the neglect of citizens’ rights, could restrict people’s choices and freedoms.

If the objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and fruitful lives, social exclusion both as a process and as an outcome can categorically hamper choices and opportunities, thus reducing human development.

The first imperative is therefore to identify the socially excluded groups, their characteristics, as well as the social, political, cultural and economic processes that may lead to the production and reproduction of exclusion.

2. Social Inlusion and Social Exclusion

As defined in the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union, social inclusion is a process which ensures that those at risk of poverty and social exclusion gain the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social and cultural life and to enjoy a standard of living and well-being that is considered normal in the society in which they live. It ensures that they have greater participation in decision making which affects their lives and access to their fundamental rights.

The European Union defines people as living in poverty or social exclusion, when they “are prevented from participating fully in economic, social and civil life and/or when their access to income and other resources (personal, family, social and cultural) is so inadequate as to exclude them from enjoying a standard of living and quality of life that is regarded as acceptable by the society in which they live” (European Commission 2001).

Among the different defitions of social exclusion, there is a broad agreement that it consists of exclusion from social, political and economic institutions resulting from a complex and dynamic set of processes and relationships that prevent individuals or groups from accessing resources, participating in society and asserting their rights. (Beall & Piron, 2005).

Within a discourse of citizenship, social rights and social justice, social exclusion is not understood as lack of access to goods but as lack of access to rights. Accordingly, the opposite of social exclusion is not inclusion but participation. Such view of the concept is very closely linked to the human development approach and highlights the agents that lead to social exclusion: discriminatory practices and institutional barriers that prevent the access to public services and political participation (Lister 2004). For Sen (2000), social exclusion almost reflects the Aristotelian perspective of an impoverished life where one does not have the freedom to undertake important activities that a person has reason to choose[2].

This Report posits therefore that social exclusion constitutes an infringement on the rights of individuals and groups. If unchecked, such infringement may lead to serious constraints on individual personal development, wellbeing, freedoms and choices. From the human development point of view, social exclusion is the process and outcome that hampers the wide range of human fulfilment. It refers to limited and inequitable opportunities and capabilities of individual and groups to fully take part in economic, social, political and cultural life.

The social exclusion lens thus provides a new perspective on the human development approach by assigning a central role to relational connections and emphasizing on the process dimension of exclusion (the agents, groups, and institutions that exclude).

For the purposes of this report, then, a definition of social exclusion that encorporates the human development approach is as followed: Social exclusion refers to the processes which hamper people and group’s opportunities to exercise the full range of their choices as well as to the outcome of marginalization ensued.

As Sen argues, people may be excluded from some opportunity because of a deliberate policy or practice prevalent in the society they live in, which he calls as instances of ‘active exclusion’. This may result in the ‘constitutive’ part of their ‘capability deprivation’. And once they are burdened with this deprivation in one field, they are leading a handicapped life and this might be responsible for their deprivations in other fields in life. Sen calls the second category ‘capability failures’ and assigns ‘instrumental’ role to the factor of social exclusions for that. The potential remedy lies in changing certain specific policies that should target the groups or communities which are at a disadvantageous position because of such exclusionary practices.

Yet, there are many ‘capability deprivations’ that result from a complex web of deep institutional issues intertwined with systemic configurations on economic and socio-political fronts. In such cases, the deprivation comes about through social processes in which there are no deliberate attempt to exclude. Sen calls them cases of ‘passive exclusion’ (Sen 2000).

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For example, cases of unemployment among a particular community of people, eg. migrants in their host country, on account of certain legal restrictions would constitute an instance of ‘active’ exclusion, which is in this case a constitutive exclusion as well. The other capability deprivations among this community of migrants, which follow from their unemployment could be termed as their ‘capability failures’. This too can be explained as ‘active’ exclusion. When unemployment is the result of complex web of multiple institutional and systemic factors, ‘passive’ exclusion occurs, in that the people are after all ‘excluded’ from the opportunity to be employed.

The Human Development paradigm would be effective in understanding these cases because it looks at the perspective from an inter-systemic point of view and presents them more in a holistic perspective.

3. Convergence and Relationships

Social exclusion and human development

As discussed above, the human development approach stresses the significance of education, access to adequate social services (health, education, access to water and utilities, social protection, housing, etc), environmental sustainability, gender equality, human security and respect for individual rights. Social exclusion, which prevents access through institutional, community- and personal-level barriers to important social goods and services, whether as a result of deliberate discrimination or lack of capacity to deliver, whether as a result of active or passive exclusion, impedes people’s ability to live a full life.

Social inclusion adds the process dimension of exclusion (the agents, groups, and institutions that exclude) to the human development concept. A social inclusion perspective can thus help sharpen the strategies for achieving human development by addressing the discrimination, exclusion, powerlessness and accountability failures that lie at the root of poverty and other development problems. Both concepts are complementary in policy terms: human development bears a stronger focus on what needs to be achieved; while social inclusion focuses on how it should be achieved.

The Relationship between Social Exclusion and Human Development

  • What can limit freedoms and choices is social exclusion, both as a process and as an outcome. However, there are limitations of freedoms in all societies that affect the mainstream population without creating exclusion.
  • Exclusion hampers choices and opportunities, thus reduce human development.
  • From the human development point of view, social exclusion is the process and outcome that hampers the wide range of human fulfilment.
  • Inclusion is one of the goals to achieve, there might be others (e.g. environmental sustainability, conflicts etc) that do not directly depend on social exclusion.
  • Both concepts are complementary in policy terms: human development bears a stronger focus on what needs to be achieved; while social inclusion focuses on how it should be achieved.
  • Social inclusion adds the process dimension of exclusion (the agents, groups, and institutions that exclude) to the human development concept.
  • Social inclusion is also focused on those that are excluded, thus emphasizing the equity principle. Human Development does look at broader societal improvements that affects also those that are not excluded (once again, environmental sustainability can be an example), although it is true that guaranteeing the inclusion of all can have broader positive repercussions on the rest of society.
  • A social inclusion perspective can thus help sharpen the strategies for achieving human development by addressing the discrimination, exclusion, powerlessness and accountability failures that lie at the root of poverty and other development problems.

Social Inclusion as the path to human development:

What follows as the logical consequence that human development is the larger goal to achieve. Can the social inclusion approach be the ‘best practice’ in this regard? Social inclusion policies, in principle, are ways to achieve human development: They are designed to correct negative outcomes of exclusion which can be ascribed to gender; age; ethnicity; location; economic, education, or health status or disability, etc., be these intentional (e.g., systematic discrimination) or unintentional (i.e., the failure to recognize the differential impact of policies on individuals or groups).

The EU charter of Fundamental Rights defines social inclusion as “a process which ensures that those at risk of poverty and social exclusion gain the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social and cultural life and to enjoy a standard of living and well-being that is considered normal in the society in which they live. It ensures that they have greater participation in decision making which affects their lives and access to their fundamental rights”. The significant element of phraseology used in this definition is ‘greater participation’, which implies that the social inclusion approach is not just satisfied at present with tendering a so-called platform of ‘equality’ to ‘all’. Rather, it is more concerned with a futureobjective of achieving ‘equality’ for ‘all’.

Thus, the social inclusion approach acknowledges the need to proffer to those excluded a ‘greater’ say in the scheme of things than what they receive now, i.e. a ‘greater participation’ in comparison with that of the non-excluded. In terms of legalese, this is known as ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of the excluded with a view to bringing them at par with others, i.e. ‘including’ them in the mainstream of life.

Social Inclusion approach thus is more about ‘redistribution of social opportunities’ among all sections of population so that everyone gets a plausible opportunity to flourish and thus, to contribute to the cause of enhancing efficiency of a society as a whole. A prosperous society provides more opportunities for personal fulfillment which is not to be viewed just in terms of economic freedom but also in terms of everything else that provides the necessary yardstick to evaluate the ‘quality of life’.

Social exclusion and rights based approach

A social exclusion perspective shares with a Rights-Based Approach (RBA) a common concern with equity, non-discrimination and the importance of participation that should be inclusive. In this respect, a social exclusion perspective is concerned with governance and citizenship rights, with the institutional dimension of exclusion and with the organizations, institutions and processes that exclude. The mainstreaming of human rights in development programming is a way of tackling certain forms of social exclusion and strengthening inclusion policies.

Social exclusion, poverty and vulnerability

Although the concept of poverty, social exclusion and vulnerability share certain common characteristics, they also have important distinguishing features. People who are not poor can be excluded, but many may also become poor due to exclusion from economic activity, and may thus become vulnerable. The analysis of exclusion and vulnerability may not necessarily be the same as that of poverty. The three phenomena, however, are inextricably related.

Traditional thinking about income poverty focuses on individual subsistence level as against a standard conventional change. The concept of human poverty, instead represents a measurement of well being as not a static but a dynamic multi-dimensional experience, and is closer to the concept of social exclusion. People may experience poverty not just because they lack access to goods and services but also because there are systematic constraints that limit the mobilisation and the allocation of resources to the particular group. The EU, for example, which has set social inclusion at the heart of policymaking, conceives of exclusion as distinct from income poverty. Poverty is a distributional outcome, whereas exclusion is a relational process of declining participation, solidarity and access. Indeed for some, exclusion is a broader term encompassing poverty; for others, it is a cause or a consequence of poverty. But it is likely that causation runs in both directions.

Highlights on vulnerability are essentially to reduce/manage the risk of the loss of livelihoods and the threat to security which more often than not is influenced by one’s poverty status. Vulnerability is often obviously worsened by poverty which, therefore, points to an important interface between poverty alleviation and social risk management.

Social exclusion as compared to poverty and vulnerability is intended to focus more attention on structural bottlenecks to equity and social justice. To overcome social exclusion, therefore, it is obvious that there has to be a deliberate effort to reform customary and legal codes of conduct to create opportunities for excluded groups to become empowered. This particular objective has been taken into account in current thinking on poverty reduction and social risks management.

An advantage of the concept of social exclusion/inclusion over an approach based on poverty and other material deprivation is its focus on processes, i.e. the dynamics of the interaction between an individual and his or her social, legal, political, cultural and economic environment. Asking whether a person is able to participate equally in mainstream society, leads to identifying barriers to participation. These barriers can be institutional (discrimination, lack of infrastructure or absence of services, or in the case of people with disabilities, can also be the physical accessibility of buildings or schools), in the community (prejudice, marginalization), or personal (lack of education, withdrawal, rejection, or fears). Different population groups may experience different and overlapping vulnerabilities or face different barriers, which require different strategies to overcome them.

Convergence of concepts towards a social inclusion approach

Human development, the Human Rights Based Approach and Social Inclusion proceed from a moral or philosophical belief in the intrinsic value of human life and a commitment to the dignity and equality of each human being. Another value added of both the social inclusion and human development approaches is that they look at groups/communities dynamics and interaction within society, beyond the rights-holders vs. duty bearers approach

Each of these conceptual frameworks places human well-being within a social and political context, and posits aspects of the interaction of the individual with society that cannot be represented by a money-metric proxy. Each also expresses – explicitly or implicitly — the vested interest of society in the provision of supportive social policies by a state actor in realization of the social contract.

A social inclusion approach implies addressing need or alienation wherever it exists. Social inclusion reaches beyond the enforcement of rights in legal terms by tackling material deprivation, stigmatization and social separation; hence the approach seeks to understand this complex social phenomenon in terms of causes as well as outcomes. It also has an operational bias, devising workable policy responses, effectively recognizing that the state has a duty to care, include and involve all members of society in political, economic, cultural and social processes.

3) Causes and Drivers of Social Exclusion

People may be excluded by several reasons, some owing to their individual characteristics (old, sick, disabled, poor, immigrants, vulnerable women and children); others from their societal/cultural characteristics (such as religion, race, caste/ethnicity, language). These can often interact and influence each other, thus creating a spiral of multiple deprivations. Exclusion can also be triggered by circumstances of birth. Being born into poverty or to parents with low employable skills, for example, places one at a serious disadvantage in relation to future life course survival chances. Finally, social exclusion can also be an outcome of shocks, such as conflicts and abrupt socio-economic transitions.

The process dimension of social exclusion is also multi-dimensional and often involves economic, political, cultural and social exclusion. These dimensions are interrelated and reinforce each other. For example, the most excluded groups often have the worse access to education, poorer land, worse sanitation and health services, which contributes to lower productivity and incomes on the one hand, as well as limitation on engagement in political processes that could improve their position.

For this Report, we have chosen to focus on mutually related dimensions:

  • Exclusion from economic life results in and from inequalities in ownership of assets, incomes and employment opportunities.
  • Exclusion from social services results in and from inequalities in access to a range of services – education, health, housing, social protection, etc – and in human outcomes (including education, health, and nutrition).
  • Exclusion from political participation results in and from unequal access to political opportunities, justice, freedoms, institutions and power at many levels (from national to community level).
  • Cultural status exclusion results in and from differences in recognition and (de facto) hierarchical status of different groups’ cultural norms, customs and practices.

Thus, the causes or drivers of exclusion include not only the ascribed characteristics of individuals and groups, but the way that institutions and processes contribute to marginalization.

For the purposes of this report, we can cluster the potential causes and drivers, many of which prevail in the ECIS region, in three broad categories: discrimination, institutional inadequacies and horizontal inequalities:


1) Discrimination:

Ø Discriminatory practices, especially as a result of bias

Social exclusion mostly results from direct or indirect discrimination that rules and behavior, processes, policy, regulations, and institutional practices can impose, advertently or inadvertently against one or some groups of population compared to the others. These can be based on but not limited to gender, ethnicity, religion, race, geographical location, age, income status, health, educational attainment, and disability.

Prejudice and discrimination resulting from social and political biases may also cause social exclusion. For example, discrimination on the basis of ethnicity and gender may result in exclusion on the labour market, etc. In extreme cases, outright hostility and violence against certain groups may lead to social exclusion
Ø Discriminatory social values and cultural practices

Social exclusion can also persist in the cultural and traditional set-up and result from social traditions and values among different social groups of population. EXAMPLE FROM TATJANA CHAPTER

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2) Institutional inadequacies :

Ø Policies and institutional barriers

Public institutions or organizations can aggravate social exclusion through lack of understanding of the dynamics of exclusion, or through sheer oversight. Decision making may not be effective in protecting excluded groups largely due to the lack of commitment and inadequate resources.

Ø Inadequate or weak institutional support mechanisms

The weakness of institutions is exhibited in their inadequacies, poor functioning, poor quality, non responsiveness and the inability to create opportunities for those who are likely to fall prey to social exclusion. Sometimes institutions are purposely designed to favour those who are already included in the mainstream (e.g. language requirements to access education, job opportunities or other services). Private institutions and civil society organisations such as non-government institutions and community based organizations, as well as some private financial institutions and other service providers also contribute to social exclusion by failing to develop programmes to support the interests of excluded groups or by deliberately excluding some from social services.

Ø Discriminatory laws or inadequate enforcement

Poor legislation may deepen the exclusion of some social groups.. In some circumstances, adequate legislation may be in place to protect the interests of the underprivileged, but poorly enforced legal regimes can make such legislation meaningless.

3) Horizontal inequalities:

Ø Inequalities between groups

Inequalities that exist de facto or de jure among groups can increase exclusion. These can include, for example, inequalities in terms of

  • Class/wealth and access to resources
  • Gender relations: How the given socio- cultural structures in a particular community define the formal and informal rules for men and women, boys and girls for equal opportunity in decision-making, access, control over resources and participation and the resultant impact on their social status;
  • Ethnicity: How the norms and socially defined practices of dominant ethnic groups define the degree and form of discriminatory practices towards disadvantaged groups;
  • Language: How communities speaking the dominant language have more possibility for inclusion and the resultant inequality between speakers of minority and majority languages
  • Religion: How dominant religious groups define attitudes and behaviors towards other religions that could include discriminatory practices
  • Location/spatial access: How geography impacts access and exclusion, for example, capitals versus rural areas, mountainous regions, etc.
  • Citizenship: The absence of documents can exclude for a series of rights and services.

Lack of opportunities and capabilities

Even if all social groups are provided with the same level of opportunity, disadvantaged groups can not necessarily enjoy equally the benefits from the provisions of such equal opportunity. When deprivation is prolonged throughout the lifespan of individuals or groups, it can result in intergenerational transfer of poverty which in turn creates and perpetuates social exclusion. Intergenerational transfer of poverty is sustained by continued external and internal shocks, thus making it difficult for existing generations to provide better opportunities for the next generations.

Consequences of social exclusion: Loss of Human Development

The presence of social exclusion has negative impacts on the levels of human development in society and among individuals. It often leads to the following dysfunctionalities: AGAIN, WE SHALL HAVE EXAMPLES FROM THE REGION PUT HERE TO MAKE IT MORE RELEVANT FOR OUR REPORT

  • Increases in inequalities between groups: Unequal access to political, economic, and social resources and inequalities of cultural status can have a serious negative impact on the welfare of members of poorer groups whose well-being is affected by their own relative position and that of their group.
  • Gender inequality: Gender inequality is one of the main drivers of poverty and social exclusion. Women often experience double or triple discrimination and exclusion in a more comprehensive manner.
  • Violation of human rights of individuals: When exclusion compels individuals to forfeit what should have been otherwise their lawful claims, it amounts to a human rights issue.
  • Reductions in growth potential of society: When some people, because of the group to which they belong, do not have access to education or jobs on the basis of their potential merit or efficiency, their contributions to society diminish.
  • Lack of empowerment: Deprived groups often face barriers and lack in skills and knowledge to fully access opportunities. This in turn leads to their under-representation, which furthers exclusion.
  • Difficulties in eliminating poverty: It is often difficult to reach members of deprived groups effectively with programmes of assistance. This is especially so because deprived groups face multiple disadvantages and discrimination and these need to be confronted together. Otherwise, exclusion leads to higher rates of poverty among the most excluded.
  • Insecurity, violence and conflict: Conflicts can strengthen processes of social exclusion can also create new layers of exclusion. When exclusions and horizontal inequalities are severe, they could lead to violence, especially if groups become organized or used by leaders with political agendas.

4) Typology Of Policies to Reduce Exclusion/Improve Inclusion

Prescriptive definitions and policies designed to combat social exclusion (what might be termed the ‘social inclusion agendas’) are context- dependent. However, a number of principles can be used as guiding factors:

  1. The challenge of exclusion is, indeed, its multi-dimensional nature, which calls for multi-intervention programmes to effect systemic change. Policies for social inclusion need to take a multidimensional approach and generally target groups rather than individuals.
  2. To achieve social inclusion or reduce social exclusion, one has to go beyond ‘equality of opportunities’ since groups with deep disadvantages which have accumulated over time are unable to use opportunities with the same efficiency and outcomes. Corrective measures need to be applied both at the process and input levels.
  3. Legal, regulatory and policy frameworks to promote inclusion need to be specifically designed and implemented to change processes which are directly or indirectly discriminatory. These measures (often referred to as affirmative action, positive discrimination) need to be applied both at the process and input levels
  4. Economic growth only or untargeted social development policies are not enough to tackle social exclusion. While growth may be good for human development, in general growth alone will not improve social exclusion, and neither will it alone guarantee improvements in terms of human development (HDR 1996). Corrective policy requires an improvement in the relative position of those excluded, including a change in power relations. Greater access to knowledge, better social welfare and health services, political and cultural freedoms, a sense of participation in community activities, and self-respect and dignity are also very relevant for human welfare.
  5. Overall, social inclusion means implementing human development policies while making sure that equal access is provided to all groups, and specific targeting or corrective measures are geared towards the most excluded. In effect, it means adopting a human right approach to human development policies. It also means ‘tailored universalism’: universal access plus support for the excluded to access key services.

PART III: Social Exclusion in the ECIS Region

5) Social Exclusion in the ECIS Region

Two decades of transition have brought many changes to the Europe and CIS (ECIS) region. On the one hand greatly expanding people’s rights and opportunities but on the other hand increasing levels of insecurity and rising inequality. The majority of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have regained and exceeded their pre-transition levels of per capita GDP.[3]

Transition to open democratic systems and a market economy included privatization of state owned enterprises and major changes in the mode of operation of government along with the introduction of political pluralism in many of the countries of the region. It was expected that the new economic concept based on private ownership, which offered a more efficient framework for entrepreneurship than social ownership along with liberalization of the business environment would ensure more rapid development of the transition economies. It was also expected that the emerging democracies would offer more openness and choice of alternative policies for solving existing problems.

Despite significant gains, however, the benefits of economic growth and increasing socio-political freedoms have not been equally distributed. Transition had very different paths in different countries: in some inequalities were exacerbated and institutions and social security nets were disrupted much more than in others. In such countries, the past twenty years have also been characterized by high levels of insecurity and rising inequality. Fear and insecurity in the face of a declining quality of life have worked to undermine social solidarity with those less able to compete in a lightly regulated free market, while pressures on public expenditures have often left the elderly, the disabled or families with multiple dependents and care responsibilities in poverty. The privatization process inevitably widened the social gap among the population and led to the creation of “haves and have nots”. Social tensions and discrimination and prejudice against social and ethnic minorities have been exacerbated, and several countries in the region flared into conflict, when these fears were manipulated by political actors.

In order to understand the root causes of exclusion today, the experience of the countries of the ECIS need to be examined in light of their legacies, their progress since the 1990s, and the lessons that can be shared. In some socialist countries, for example, socialism arguably facilitated social inclusion (e.g., by providing social mobility for workers and peasants, or ethnic minorities); in other it may have prevented it (e.g., via its discouragement/persecution of civic engagement, political participation, income generation outside of the state sector). State socialism may have generated certain patterns of social inclusion even though this was not its intention.

6) Social Inclusion applied: The Case of the European Union

The European social charter is perhaps worth a reference here: SUSANNE CAN YOU HELP?

The intersection between Marxist socialism and European social thought about social inclusion however is not a null set; both were strongly influenced by pre-Marxian socialist thought, and subsequently by “revisionism”/socialism of the kind that underpinned the European Social charter and West European/social democracy.

The concept of social exclusion originated in Europe where it is still most widely used. With roots in French as well as German sociology (e.g. Luhmann 1999) it developed into a mainly political discourse when the European Commission adopted the term in the late 80s (for a comprehensive review see Lister 2004). Rene Lenoir, French Secretary for Social Affairs in the Chirac Government in France, is credited with the popularization of the concept of social exclusion in his 1974 publication – Les Exclus: Un Français sur dix. His list of excluded people included both the poor and social outcasts based on mental and physical disabilities, as well as racial and ethnic minorities. In France the term had a particular meaning, it marked a “rupture of the social fabric” or the breakdown of “solidarity” which was the moral bond that held society together (de Haan 2000) But it was in the late 1970s and 1980s that the term became popular in France, Britain and the rest of Europe as newly elected governments embarked on economic restructuring and in the process attempted to modernize the Welfare State by adapting it to changing economic realities.

New social policies were proposed to address the new emerging social problems of the period. The ILO (1996) and other international bodies like the European Union for example incorporated the concept of social exclusion in their discussions on chronic unemployment, unskilled workers and immigrants. Such problems can in their interaction create a cycle of disadvantage.

The concept of Social Inclusion as articulated and applied in practice in the European Union proceeds from the same moral and philosophical foundation of humanism. The development of the EU both as an economic and a political institution influences its articulation of individual rights. The concept of Social Inclusion posited participation in the labour force as the primary nexus of social interaction, which also provides access to social insurance. It sought to understand social exclusion in terms of exclusion from the paid labour force and explicitly assigns an active obligation to the State to identify and remove barriers to full participation in paid employment and to regularly report on progress. The concept then widened to include political and broader social and cultural dimensions. Ultimately, the concept deepened the EU’s focus on combating poverty and all other forms of exclusion.

The EU integration process has increased the prominence of social inclusion in policy debates in countries on their way to becoming a member state of the CEE as well as the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) countries.. This in turn has increased the need among national governments and institutions to develop relevant social inclusion [Laeken] statistics and policies.

In pursuing social inclusion, the EU has come to recognize explicitly the interdependence of sustainable economic growth and social policy which promotes the active participation of all members of society. Many aspects of this obligation to act are delineated in the Human Rights conventions to which the States of the ECIS region are signatories. The State has a responsibility to act to achieve these rights by implementing policies which address active and/or passive barriers to full participation in society by all of its members who so desire. The State also has a vested interest, both political and economic, in ensuring the stability and cohesiveness of society and with it the sustainability of economic growth through the inclusion of all its members. Many states of the region however are not strong or are internally divided in frozen conflicts

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The EU member states have themselves gone through a phase of policy and measurement experimentation and experience sharing within the Open Method of Coordination. However, the conceptual framework of social inclusion, its linkages to human development and achieving the MDGs, and its relevance has not yet been examined in countries not seeking EU accession.[4] The goal of this RHDR is to provide a summary of regional experience so far as it concerns the countries seeking accession. It seeks to offer guidance on good practices on social inclusion that have been already practised and experimented with in the context of other EU countries.

Why is Social Inclusion a priority for the EU?

Because its absence

  • causes denial of fundamental rights
  • weakens social and political solidarity and
  • entails waste of human resources
  • anticipates high costs of dealing with consequences (e.g. poor health, unemployment, racism, anti-social behavior)

7) How the European Union Seeks to Reach the Goal

Today, ‘Combating social exclusion’ is the driver behind EU’s Open Method of Coordination (OMC) in the field of employment and social policies. The EU Social Protection and Social Inclusion Process or “social OMC” is to help countries improve their own social policies through mutual policy learning and exchange of good practices amongst the members. Based on a mutual feedback process, the OMC was formalised in the context of the Lisbon Strategy which is based on three main pillars: economic pillar, employment pillar (more and better jobs) and social pillar. The Lisbon Strategy aims at achieving an important strategic goal set for 2010, namely: “to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion” (March 2000 Lisbon European Council).

In March 2005, EU leaders decided to give the priority to the employment and economic pillars while emphasising at the same time the need to go on with the social OMC.

What is the OMC?

  • EU Member States co-ordinate their policies for combating poverty and social exclusion on the basis of a process of policy exchanges and mutual learning known as the ‘Open Method of Coordination’ (OMC).
  • OMC is intergovernmental means of governance in the European Union, based on the voluntary cooperation of its member states
  • The open method rests on soft law mechanisms such as guidelines and indicators, benchmarking and sharing of best practice

Main elements of the OMC:

  • Common objectives for the Union
  • Common indicators (Laeken), statistics (EU-SILC) as a means of comparing best practice and measuring progress
  • Translating the EU objectives into national/regional policies on the basis of National Reports on Strategies for Social Protection and Social Inclusion
  • Publishing reports analyzing and assessing the National Reports (Joint Reports on Social Inclusion)
  • A Community Action Programme to promote policy cooperation and transnational exchange of learning and good practice.

Three policy areas provide the framework for the OMC process are

  1. eradicating poverty and social exclusion
  2. adequate and sustainable pensions and
  3. accessible, high quality and sustainable health and long-term care.

In March 2006 (or 2007?), a new framework for the streamlined EU Social Protection and Social Inclusion Process was adopted by the Commission and all 27 Member States. This includes 12 common objectives: 3 for each of the 3 strands (social inclusion, pensions and healthcare and long-term care) plus 3 overarching objectives (aimed at ensuring: a) the consistency between the 3 social strands; b) feeding in/out between the two main processes of Lisbon, i.e. between the social OMC, on the one hand, and the employment and economic EU cooperation, on the other).

In 2008, the EU launched the renewed social agenda which is fully coherent with and reinforces the goals of Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. The focus has shifted to empowering and enabling individuals to realise their potential while at the same time helping those who are unable to do so. The renewed agenda recognizes that it cannot be confined to traditional social domains but has to be cross cutting and multidimensional, covering a wide range of areas from labour market policies to education, health, immigration and intercultural dialogue. The renewed social agenda is built around three principles: opportunities, access and solidarity.

The European Commission has designated 2010 as the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion aimed at working towards social justice and equal opportunity for those experiencing poverty and social exclusion. The year 2010 marks the end of the Lisbon Strategy and requires an assessment of achievements and new strategy for the next decade.

Even though the Lisbon deadline is 2010, it is clear that EU cooperation in the employment, economic and social areas will be maintained and deepened beyond 2010.

The concept applied in the EU today is more economic and labour force focused. The concept of Social Inclusion recognizes the central importance of social processes of inclusion or exclusion and the role of informal as well as formal institutions. It now defines full participation and the barriers to participation much more broadly and has correspondingly broadened the responsibilities of the State and other stakeholders to identify and address social and political barriers well beyond its initial remit.

Monitoring social inclusion in the EU

Monitoring tools for the OMC consist of:

  1. “purely” national indicators;
  2. commonly agreed EU and “national” indicators (the difference being their level of “EU harmonisation”); and
  3. commonly agreed background information, including both statistical and non-statistical information.

In this context the European Commission puts emphasis on international comparability of data based on results of policies by countries to reduce poverty and social exclusion.To facilitate comparability, a set of indicators, “Laeken indicators’ were established to allow comparison of each state’s progress in achieving the objectives of social inclusion. The main data source for the “Laeken indicators” in EU member states is the Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) survey that collects cross-sectional and longitudinal data on income, social inclusion and living conditions in general. Until now, progress has been compared across EU member states based on the comparable indicators but not using any quantifiable targets. Currently, the EC is considering the introduction of measurable and time-bound targets on social inclusion for member states.


The Community Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) provides data for cross-country comparable indicators on income and living conditions. Currently, EU-SILC covers the EU-27 countries, plus a few non-EU countries including Turkey, Norway, Iceland and (soon) Croatia. EU-SILC is mandatory for all EU Member States but open for joining by interested countries. It covers population living in private households, with total sample size across the EU in 2005 of around 200,000 households. A key objective of EU-SILC is to measure annual gross and disposable income, including earnings, public and private transfers, capital income, goods produced by one on her own and imputed rent etc. Apart from income data, EU-SILC also includes a lot of information on living conditions (housing conditions, arrears, local environment…), education, activity status etc. Each year, the EU-SILC core questionnaire is complemented with a thematic module.

8) Wider Europe and Social Inclusion

In the wider European neighbourhood, Southeast European countries now negotiating for EU membership are expected to develop the institutional capacity needed to discharge their social inclusion obligations. Candidate countries in the pre-accession period have, together with DG Employment, to design the Joint Inclusion Memorandum (JIM) as a preparation for participation in the OMC. JIMs analyze the situation of social exclusion, identify key challenges, review the effectiveness of existing policies and identify key priorities for the future. However, they come with no commitment to implement future actions. The JIM process intends to prepare acceding and candidate countries for participation in the OMC after accession. The process also intends to build statistical capacity for monitoring poverty and social exclusion. The JIMs confirm the strong political commitment to tackle poverty and social exclusion in acceding countries and are signed jointly by the Commission and the acceding country.

What is a JIM?

A document and a process which will help to:

  • build capacity and mobilise all actors
  • measure extent and identify major problems
  • assess key challenges
  • develop statistical capacity & promote indicators to monitor social exclusion
  • review effectiveness of existing policies and recognise relevance of existing policies
  • identify policy priorities to improve social inclusion process
  • increase awareness of Common Objectives
  • develop integrated national strategy

The first round of accession in 2004 and related development of Joint Inclusion Memorandum has illustrated limitations and challenges associated with developing comprehensive strategies aimed at fighting poverty and social exclusion and effective implementation of policies and reforms. Many of the plans had to be strengthened to include specific and ambitious priorities, supported by better data and improved links with broader national economic and budgetary policies. The process of countries like Croatia and Macedonia in working with the EU on social exclusion policies and documents has therefore been strengthened. The JIM process in Croatia varied from that undertaken by the 10 new EU Member States, with more emphasis placed on national ownership, wide participation of stakeholders during all stages of the preparation, filling the data gap and raising awareness. This allowed for the development of better targeting of policy priority areas and mainstreaming of social inclusion aspects. Targeted support to all Western Balkan countries in enhancing their capacities on analysing social exclusion and designing and implementing social inclusion policies are now being provided by a variety of actors, including the EC, World Bank, UN agencies and bilateral donors.

The application of the European Neighbourhood Policy to many of the former Soviet republics (and to countries in the Middle East and North Africa)-which promises these countries privileged access to EU’s single market and trade facilitation funding if they adopt European standards-suggests that additional benefits could accrue to countries outside of the EU, if they are able to develop relevant social inclusion analyses and policies.

Other important inter-governmental policy frameworks emphasising social inclusion have recently emerged. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires that persons with disabilities can fully exercise their economic, social, political, civil, and cultural rights on an equal basis with non-disabled persons. The Decade of Roma Inclusion seeks to close the socio-economic gaps between Roma and majority populations in eleven Central and Southeast European countries by 2015. Meeting the commitments set forth in these frameworks requires new efforts to design and monitor social inclusion strategies-and to develop the institutional capacity needed for these efforts, among state, private sector, and civil society actors. It also requires aligning poverty reduction strategies and other overarching macroeconomic and development frameworks with social inclusion strategies.

The EU social policy framework is broad enough to witness a wide variety of national approaches toward defining and realising social inclusion (even within the framework of the Lisbon agenda). Some old-and more new-member states have had good success in promoting employment and labour market access by liberalising (or “modernising”) labour market regulation and social protection systems. This underscores the conceptual difficulties presented in defining what policies actually promote social inclusion-which is a very relevant issue for this RHDR.

From its origin in the European tradition and commitment to social solidarity, community and equity reflected in various European social models, the concept of exclusion/inclusion has moved to describe processes and outcomes in all sorts of societies today, developing, industrialized and those in transition.


The RHDR focuses on commonalities and lessons learend that can be shared with the region. Chapter two shows that although there are significant variations among and within ECIS countries in the levels and intensity of poverty and social exclusion, the people at risk and the dynamics of transition are quite consistent and present similar challenges throughout the region.


[1] Prepared by Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh, Writing Team Leader, with research assistance from Subrata Biswas, and on the basis of documentation provided by the UNDP Regional Support Center, Bratislava. Inputs were also provided by Susanne Milcher, Andrey Ivanov, Jaroslav Kling, Max Spoor, Paul Stubbs, Branka Andjelkovic and Tatjana Peric.

[2] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book I, section 7; in the translation of D.Ross (1980), p. 12-14 Amartya Sen, Social Exclusion: Concept, Application and Scrutiny (June 2000); Social Development Papers No.1. Office of Environment and Social Development, Asian Development Bank.

[3] reference to MONEE work on the early years of transition (Cornia et al) REFER ALSO TO CHAPTER ON ECONOMIC EXCLUSION

[4] In countries where EU accession plays an important role, UNDP has organized two conferences in cooperation with the EC on aligning Social Inclusion and the MDGs: Aligningthe European Union Social Inclusion Process and the Millennium Development Goals (Vilnius, Lithuania, April 26-27, 2004) and Western Balkans Forum on Social Inclusion and the Millennium Development Goals (Tirana, Albania, June 23-24, 2005).

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