Social Cohesion Research and Early Warning

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Social Cohesion

Forum 2004: Socially responsible consumption and finance systems


The Council of Europe, as the “home of democracy and human rights”, acknowledges every community-based effort that helps to make society a decent setting for everyone to live in.

Accordingly, in the revised Strategy for Social Cohesion (2004), the concept of shared responsibility spurs governments to take into account the emergent “concern on the part of individuals to develop new forms of economic action capable of contributing to social cohesion ... using the means of action that are open to them as individuals such as their power as consumers and the way in which they use their savings” (para. 30).
"The challenge is to find ways of ensuring that the market economy contributes to social cohesion and does not function so as to exclude those who are least attractive as consumers"
Revised Strategy for Social Cohesion 2004 - para. 31
Nowadays, the organisation of social cohesion must come to terms with the assertion of the individual and of his social responsibilities.

How are connections that favour social cohesion to be established between the functioning of society and day-to-day individual practices in consumption and utilisation of financial resources? Finance and consumption are pre-eminently perceived as expressions of a burgeoning individualism - hence the question of how to foster the social responsibilities inherent in these individual actions.
The Forum 2004 “Solidarity finance and responsible consumption: official and community commitment to social cohesion” organised by the Social Cohesion Development Division of the Directorate General of Social Cohesion setted out to answer this question.

It is necessary to “qualify” the economic relations involved: initiatives in favour of ethical, solidarity-based finance and responsible consumption seek to transform these relations into links that favour social cohesion. In addition, they can fulfil the need to discover a dimension of individual commitment not tied to an overly specific occupational, ideological or religious identification (exemplified by the more traditional collective formations of the political party and trade union type, certain associations, etc.). So, what we are concerned with is the interaction between the individual, his dealings with the market, and social cohesion.

Ethical and socially responsible initiatives are primarily directed at the sovereign consumer. They do not seek to restrict but rather to broaden the range of choice, by subsuming parameters that allow the consumer's relationships with other people, the world at large and the personal environment to be apprehended. (more...)
  Themes covered
Ethical and socially responsible community-based initiatives in the economy, responding to the challenges of social cohesion
Official support for ethical and socially responsible community-based initiatives
Approaches and decisions to spread the impact of ethical and socially responsible community-based initiatives
Promoting the concepts and practices of an ethical and socially responsible economy at the pan-European level
  Related information
Project of a Platform for political dialogue and the promotion of ethical, socially responsible and solidarity-based initiatives in the economy
Speakers' contributions
Speakers' biographies
Press file
Trends in social cohesion, No.12 - Ethical, solidarity-based citizen involvement in the economy: a prerequisite for social cohesion
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Trends in social cohesion Volume N°14 - Solidarity-based choices in the market-place: a vital contribution to social cohesion
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