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The Mainstreaming Social Inclusion website is now online at www.europemsi.org
Poverty and social exclusion remain deeply disturbing problems within European society, with 15% (or 55 million people) living below the official EU poverty line. Poverty and social exclusion have many and varied causes and to address them there is a need for wide ranging and integrated policies and measures across many areas of society and government.
A new understanding is emerging that to do this successfully, all national policies should have a poverty perspective. This is known as mainstreaming social inclusion. This is a new concept and, consequently, what it means differs across the Member States.
In 2003, the Combat Poverty Agency, along with transnational partners in Europe and the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), undertook a three-year research project to advance an understanding of mainstreaming social inclusion. The partner countries/regions are: Ireland, Czech Republic, France, Northern Ireland, Norway and Portugal.
The project was part funded by the European Commission through the Transnational Exchange Programme. Mainstreaming Social Inclusion (MSI) is one of 64 projects in the EU Transnational Exchange Programme (TEP). The primary objective of TEP is to support mutual learning between Member States, accession countries and EFTA and EEA countries.
The objectives of the MSI project are:
Mainstreaming Social Inclusion - Phase I (2003)
The aim of Phase I was to map out how mainstreaming social inclusion is understood in each partner country or region and to identify the key features of what constitutes mainstreaming. This phase of the Project has been completed. Two publications, a Research Report and Seminar Report, are available below.
Key Findings from Phase I
To increase information on what is understood by mainstreaming, the partner countries/regions that participated in Phase I set out their understanding of mainstreaming and provided two case studies to illustrate this understanding.
The project found that there was no common understanding of, or approach to, mainstreaming social inclusion. Rather, it identified a number of approaches amongst the partners, which are attempting to shift existing policy and delivery models to produce positive outcomes for people experiencing poverty.
These approaches may be classified as follows:
There are two distinct approaches that determine whether or not the inclusion of a poverty perspective is ‘integrationist’ or ‘agenda setting’. The former is where social inclusion perspectives are introduced into existing policy processes but do not challenge the existing policy paradigm. The latter involves a fundamental re-think of the ends or goals of the policies themselves so as to include a social inclusion perspective. However, the two approaches share a number of features, including:
Benefits of Mainstreaming Social Inclusion
The research has found that mainstreaming is a neutral concept as it is not clear whether or not it can result in a reduction or elimination of poverty or an improvement in the lives of people who are experiencing poverty. However, the research did find that there were potentially positive outcomes following implementation of mainstreaming processes, some of which were demonstrated in the different case studies. These include:
Outcomes for People Experiencing Poverty:
Outcomes for Policymaking and Policymakers:
Mainstreaming Social Inclusion - Phase II (2004-2005)
The aim of Phase II was to build on the work of Phase I, and, in particular, to investigate the potential of mainstreaming for achieving positive outcomes for people experiencing poverty and the benefits that mainstreaming can generate and to develop a framework for the evaluation of how social inclusion is mainstreamed into government policies.
Phase III (2006)
During 2006 the MSI Project will undertake an evaluation study of the mainstreaming of social inclusion into public policies. Using the questionnaire developed during Phase II of the Project in 2004-2005, this study will evaluate how the concept of mainstreaming social inclusion is incorporated into public policies with a particular focus on the NAPincl process. More specifically, research on all levels of governance, NGOs and social partners in nine partner countries (Ireland, UK, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria) will be undertaken to determine a scale to measure mainstreaming. The study will also apply qualitative techniques – in-depth interviews and good practice case studies from each participating countries to complement data from the survey.
The results of this study will provide a benchmark for the future measurements of mainstreaming social inclusion into the public policies of the Member States. The research is funded through the EU Transnational Exchange Programme.
The objectives of the study are:
Presentations from Phase II Research Workshops
For further information on the Mainstreaming Social Inclusion Project, visit the MSI website at www.europemsi.org or contact:
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