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Dialogue platform on ethical and solidarity-based initiatives for combating poverty and social exclusion
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Series Trends in social cohesion
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Series of publications Trends in social cohesion

The series of publications “Trends in social cohesion” was launched in order to provide a forum for observation and analysis of the developments taking place on matters of social cohesion in the Council of Europe member states and non-member states.


Each issue will address important aspects concerning social protection and social cohesion.

To order any of these books please visit the Bookshop online or contact


N°25 - Redefining and Combating Poverty: Human Rights, Democracy and Common Goods in Today's Europe 

We are at a point in history where economic inequalities are more widespread each day. The situation of extreme poverty experienced by the majority of the populations in developing countries ("Third World" countries) often coincides with an absence of democracy and the violation of the most fundamental rights. But in so-called "First World" countries a non-negligible proportion of inhabitants also live in impoverished conditions (albeit mainly "relative" poverty) and are denied their rights. The European situation, which this publication aims to analyse, is painful: the entire continent is afflicted by increasing poverty and consequently by the erosion of living conditions and social conflicts.
The economic and financial crisis has resulted in the loss of millions of jobs, and created job insecurity for many still working. Economic insecurity raises social tensions, aggravating xenophobia, for instance. Yet the economic and financial crisis could present a good opportunity to rethink the economic and social system as a whole. Indeed, poverty in modern societies has never been purely a question of lack of wealth.
It is therefore urgent today to devise a new discourse on poverty. In pursuit of this goal, the Council of Europe is following up this publication in the framework of the project "Human rights of people experiencing poverty", co-financed by the European Commission.


No. 24 - Shared social responsibility: putting theory into practice

These reflections on the sharing of social responsibilities as proposed by the Council of Europe pave the way for asserting concepts and forms of behaviour that, while acknowledging differences in status and authority, can nevertheless promote multiple opportunities for deliberation, joint decision making, co-operation and reciprocity between stakeholders. If we are to avoid conflict and destruction in the face of growing interdependence, it is essential to reformulate current social choices, ensuring that social, intergenerational and environmental justice lie at their very heart.
This volume, like the previous one on the same theme, calls us to take action by once again heeding a key social function: when making choices and decisions, taking into consideration the expectations and preferences of the different players and citizens, and in so doing to promote transparency. Failure to exercise this function will destroy our human, natural and knowledge - and solidarity-based resources, without which efforts to make any long-term progress would be to no avail..
By advocating an approach of shared social responsibilities, this volume also takes a fresh look at conceptual and legal frameworks, and goods as facilitators of life together..
This publication will contribute to social debate and alert citizens to the need to develop opportunities for multi-stakeholder, multi-level and multi-sectoral exchanges, decision making and action, providing the same opportunities for the weakest as for the strongest and placing an emphasis on equitable access in a long-term perspective.


No. 23 - Towards a Europe of shared social responsibilities: challenges and strategies

The need to develop collective skills to acquire a shared long-term vision and to manage change is evident, given that resources are limited and there is no such thing as complete independence or immunity from the damaging effects of other people’s acts or failures to act.
Current trends are having a significant effect on both the scope and the substance of specific responsibilities, individual or collective, voluntary or statutory. In addition, extreme interdependence exacerbates the differences between values, concepts of well-being and interests, potentially giving rise to mutually destructive conflicts, wastage of resources or externally negative consequences. Hence the Council of Europe’s proposal to adopt the concept of shared social responsibility as a vital adjunct to specific responsibilities to make them more meaningful. In accordance with this concept, which is the subject of a charter addresses to governments and to all stakeholders, all parties are encouraged to practise transparency and to account for their acts in a context of knowledge and decision making shaped by dialogue and interaction.
This work on shared social responsibility considers, among other things, how to ensure that all stakeholders are recognised, make deliberation and co-production legitimate tools of democratic decision making and activate multi-player, multi-level and multi-sector processes of innovation and learning. It also examines the question of how to foster the emergence of institutional mechanisms which can restore confidence in politics and in the action of all the parties concerned.


No. 22 - Rethinking progress and ensuring a secure future for all: what we can learn from the crisis

Europe is bearing the brunt of globalisation. Alongside population movements on an unprecedented scale, awareness of our interdependence and competition for natural resources are increasing. These changes affect institutions, individuals and all kinds of authority, but also, more decisively, public opinion. People have a vague sense of insecurity, fear and anxiety, fuelling doubts about the future: never before in the modern era has confidence been so lacking. This anxiety is spreading across Europe. The deterioration of the global ecosystem and the unfair distribution of goods have created inequalities and social injustice. Unemployment levels are soaring and debt is increasing for households – including those whose members work – and states alike. Weakened by the recent financial crisis, states are hard put to preserve the social protection provided since the Second World War.  Against this background, the Council of Europe has asked several noted intellectuals about their vision for the future, inviting them to share their thoughts in order to spark a debate on how to envisage societal progress and ways of living together.


No. 21 - Institutional accommodation and the citizen: legal and political interaction in a pluralist society

The question of accommodations that institutions and citizens must make to ensure social cohesion in pluralist societies is of concern to the Council of Europe. How will we live and interact together in diversity? It is becoming increasingly important to provide responses and devise innovative frameworks (in the legal sphere, in national education and training in competences and in institutional practice) which can help build a shared vision while at the same time respecting each individual. By comparing European and Canadian responses, among others, the articles featured in this volume explore this complex issue. They contribute to a major social debate and outline a vision of the future that allows us to set aside mutual suspicion and develop institutional arrangements and forms of social interaction capable of making diversity a factor for progress, well-being and social justice. They also remind us that poverty combined with stigmatisation based on identity leads to stasis, social malaise and an increase in security measures, which ultimately prevent societies from evolving through risk-taking, shared responsibility, dialogue and consultation.


No. 20 - Well-being for all - Concepts and tools for social cohesion (2008)

The concepts of well-being for all and of responsibility borne by all are fundamental to the definition of social cohesion propounded by the Council of Europe and bring a new dimension to the ideas of freedom, choice and preference. All the articles in this volume come together to demonstrate the importance of not only the tangible but also the intangible dimensions of well-being, and more specifically, each person's recognition of their role as an actor in society. This recognition is pivotal for advancing progresses conducive to well-being founded on mutual responsibility. The way in which responsibilities are apportioned probably contributes to the widening or maintenance of gaps between the sense of well-being and the material dimensions of well-being observed in modern societies. This volume tries to suggest ways in which we can develop inclusive and concerted opinions on the subject of well-being (taking into consideration common goods) as a tool for improving social cohesion. Download

No. 19 -  Reconciling migrants' well-being and the public interest - Welfare state, firms and citizenship in transition (2008)
Even though the work place has become significantly more flexible in the former socialist countries of central and eastern Europe, the ideas on “flexicurity” and strategies of reconciliation are usually only developed in the context of the western European welfare states. However, when considering the differences of the transformation process, it is clearly indispensable to go beyond a one-size-fits-all strategy. The realities of central and eastern Europe and their social institutional systems must I taken into account. This volume contributes to filling this gap and to starting a pan-European reflection on the concepts and issues of labour flexibility and social cohesion. It contributes to the understanding| the specificities of certain realities in| central and eastern Europe, including Turkey, in order to conceive adequate strategies for conciliation. Download
No. 18 - Achieving social cohesion in a multicultural Europe - Concepts, situation and developments (2007)
The development of social cohesion in a multicultural Europe is a key political objective, both vital and attainable, for our modern societies. It can be achieved by transcending the limits of so-called "integration" policies, particularly when they take the form of unilateral processes in which migrants and their descendants are not acknowledged as partners in decisions concerning them. Far from considering the integration problems faced by migrants to be the result of alleged "cultural incompatibility", the articles and conversations in this volume reflect on the combined effects of exclusion stemming from social policy and policy on immigration, employment and nationality. Furthermore, as "intercultural competencies" developed in certain hospitals and schools have clearly shown, there are other, much more effective strategies for treating differences in a favourable light which make social rights more accessible to all. These alternative approaches can effectively help to foster social cohesion only if migrants themselves are committed to them, in particular as recognised political players in the European public arena. Download

No. 17 - Reconciling labour flexibility with social cohesion - The experiences and specificities of central and eastern Europe (2007)

Even though the work place has become significantly more flexible in the former socialist countries of central and eastern Europe, the ideas on “flexicurity” and strategies of reconciliation are usually only developed in the context of the western European welfare states. However, when considering the differences of the transformation process, it is clearly indispensable to go beyond a one-size-fits-all strategy. The realities of central and eastern Europe and their social institutional systems must I taken into account.This volume contributes to filling this gap and to starting a pan-European reflection on the concepts and issues of labour flexibility and social cohesion. It contributes to the understanding| the specificities of certain realities in| central and eastern Europe, including Turkey, in order to conceive adequate strategies for conciliation. Download

No. 16 - Reconciling labour flexibility with social cohesion - Ideas for political action

This second volume on labour flexibility deals with the possibilities for reconciliation with social cohesion. Following the Council of Europe's Forum 2005: Reconciling labour flexibility with social cohesion, it aims to present ideas useful for political action. The previous volume offers a broad description of the challenge labour flexibility represents for social cohesion, but makes it clear that with an effective reconciliation strategy the European social model can be strengthened for the future. How can this be done? What framework and context are necessary for such reconciliation? How can flexicurity arrangements that best meet the objectives of social cohesion be attained?  The authors of this volume attempt to find answers to these questions.

No. 15 - Reconciling labour flexibility with social cohesion – Facing the challenge

This volume on labour flexibility questions the effects on social cohesion of labour market administrative and organisational reforms. The Council of Europe is seeking conciliation between the inevitable changes wrought by globalisation, i.e. reorganisation of the parameters of competition, and social cohesion. This conciliation should take into account the essential political value of democratic security. This security is to be found firstly in employment; the high social and societal cost of precariousness attests to this. However, security should not imply rigidityand rather translate it into societal recognition of a “right to transition” which calls for co-responsibility of all stakeholders. Conciliation is more than a political duty: it is the cost of the stability required for social sustainability. It should therefore raise awareness of the need to find new ways of sharing fairly the costs and benefits generated by the transitions.  Download

No. 14 - Solidarity-based choices in the market-place: a vital contribution to social cohesion

This volume, which argues in favour of pursuing a public-private dialogue on citizen's commitment in economic activities in order to enhance social cohesion in Europe, supplements the analyses to be found in Trends Nr.12.
It considers the impact of citizenship-based economic activities on the restoration of the market's social and ethical dimension. Their importance is also reflected in the many legislative measures adopted by European states in this field and in public support for the development of ethical and socially responsible financing and consumption (including fair trade). Download

No. 13 - Retirement income: recent developments and proposals

This volume pursues the Council of Europe's discussion on developments in social security, focusing on the consequences of the recent reforms of old-age pension schemes in Europe and taking a closer look at the repercussions of private funding of old-agepensions on social cohesion and equality between women and men.

Also read Trends in social cohesion nr. 2 dealing with old-age pension and health care financing systems in Europe in the 1990's.

No. 12 - Ethical, solidarity-based citizen involvement in the economy: a prerequisite for social cohesion

Drawing inspiration from the Council of Europe Strategy for social cohesion, this volume analyses from different angles the new forms of economic solidarity and responsibility which European citizens are setting in place to respond to the modern-day challenges of human and environmental vulnerability.  Some legal concepts and frameworks are emerging here in response to these ethical, solidarity-based initiatives which must be read with this basic question in mind: is it possible to give a “political” meaning (in the sense of polis , the common good, or social cohesion) to individual economic choices?  Download

No. 11 - Security through social cohesion: deconstructing fear (of others) by going beyon stereotypes

This volume is intended to supplement the analyses provided in Volume Nr. 10.  It contains ideas concerning two questions relating to the effects of the feeling of insecurity on social cohesion: why does modern European society – where solidarity and collective identity are an integral part of the heritage – create a sometimes seemingly irrational demand for security? Do we have the institutional and political means to dispel the feelings of insecurity and fear that are taking hold in our societies as globalisation progresses? The texts presented suggest that we should refrain from stigmatising, criminalising, “ghetto-ising” and finding scapegoats, and call on us to find ways to dispel the fear (of others) which divides us and to open up our societies to initiatives leading to the globalisation of solidarity, while recognising everyone's rights and leaving all stereotypes behind.  Download

No. 10 - Security through social cohesion: proposals for a new socioeconomic governance

Without denying the importance of law and order, this volume makes the point that guaranteeing people's right to live in security requires a long-term strategy to strengthenjustice, social bonds and community life. Otherwise there is a risk that positive cohesion, based on acceptance of mutual reponsibility and solidarity, will give way to negative cohesion, based on fear and the raising of barriers against groups perceived as a threat. In defining social cohesion as “the capacity of a society to ensure the welfare of all its members, minimising disparities and avoiding polarisation”, the Council of Europe is saying that everyone has the right to live in security. If citizens feel they cannot expect a reasonably secure future, society as a whole will lack cohesion and stability. Download

No. 9 - Youth and exclusion in disadvantaged urban areas: policy approches in six European cities

This volume is looking in more depth at the “integration” of young people in disadvantaged urban ares. A comparative analysis of “difficult” neighbourhoods in six European cities and a detailed study of a special project conducted in the Spanish district of Naples highlight that only co-ordinated multi-agency efforts, combined with innovative approaches adapted to the specific context, can restore dignity to the younger members of such communities and enable them to build a life project. The two articles in this volume reflect the Council of Europe's approach, which consists in seeking responses to everyday violence in the urban setting while not losing sight of its commitment as an organisation to human rights, social cohesion and democracy. Using violence to smother violence merely generates even more violence. Given that observable fact, the Council of Europe advocates renewal of public-private dialogue and building bridges between warring worlds. Download

No 8 - Youth and exclusion in disadvantaged urban areas: addressing the causes of violence

Two major reports on violence and social exclusion in disadvantaged urban areas are highlighted in this volume. They examine the policies, processes and measures undertaken to overcome social exclusion and build social cohesion, particularly among young people. Both reports provide examples of good practice, lessons learnt and possible next steps. Download

No. 7 - Civil society and new social responsibilities based on ethical foundations

This volume presents the second part of the debates of the Forum 2002 on New Social Responsibility in a Globalising World: the Role of the State, the Marquet and Civil Society.  While Trends nr.6 concentrated on the new roles of the state, this volume examines some of the many citizens' initiatives for ethical social responsibility. Download

No. 6 – The state and new social responsibilities in a globalising world

This volume presents some of the outcomes of the Forum on New Social Responsibility in a Globalising World: the Role of the State, the Marquet and Civil Society, held in Strasbourg in October 2002. The forum was intended to help clarify the impact of globalisation on redefining the way social responsibility is understood and exercised at state, market and civil society levels.  Social responsibility not only concerns the freedom and independence of individuals or bodies: it is also a factor in collective well-being in just and ballanced societies. At the same time it covers the idea of coexistence, co-operation and the need for participation by all individuals.  Download

No. 5 - Combating poverty and access to social rights in the countries of the South Caucasus : a territorial approach

Combating poverty and guaranteeing access to social rights are major issues in the countries of the South Caucasus (Armenia , Azerbaijan and Georgia). Concerned with drawing the attention of member states to the need to regnise human dignity, the Council of Europe has decided to support a territorial approach in the South Caucasus , involving mayors and local officials from the European Union and central Europe. This publication analyses the initial results of the experiment in the hope that it will open a debate on the institutional and individual commitments which combating poverty involves. Download

No. 4 – New social demands: the challenges of governance

This volume presents the findings of the Forum on New Social Demands and Governance, held in 2001. The forum made an important contribution to the much-needed reflection on setting up new institutional frameworks and creating new practices of social dialogue and partnerships, vital in order to encourage interaction between new social demands, public debate and political responses.  Download

No. 3 - Using social benefits to combat poverty and social exclusion: opportunities and problems from a comparative perspective (Matti Heikkilä and Susan Kuivalainen)

This volume sets out to address key issues: it explores the nature and scope of the problem of poverty; it examines the political responses to poverty (examples of different countries); it investigates the existence and use of various definitions and thresholds applied to poverty in policy making; it also examines the variations within income transfers, i.e. social benefits designed to prevent or alleviate poverty and material hardship; it explores the effectiveness of benefit schemes in reducing poverty.  Download

No. 2 – Trends and developments in old-age pension and health-care financing in Europe during the 1990s

This volume focuses upon the common solutions and concepts developed to the challenges Council of Europe member states are facing concerning old-age pension and health-care financing. Download

No. 1 - Promoting the policy debate on social exclusion from a comparative perspective

This first volume is devoted to the initial results of the Network of Social Researchers which was set up in 2001 by the Directorate General of Social Cohesion of the Council of Europe. The network aims to build bridges between the research undertaken and the policies elaborated in the fights against social exclusion. Download