Social Action in Europe: Towards Inclusive Policy and Practice

Inclusive policies are those policies that ensure democracy by making education, training and housing accessible to all and by providing additional resources for those who need them.
Inclusive policies in the European context are those that facilitate the ability of disadvantaged social groups to exercise their rights independent of age, gender, sexual orientation, disability and ethnic belonging. During the conference this theme will be developed by distinguished keynote speakers and then further elaborated in symposia and workshops that will explore the effects of the current trends on social theory, practice, policy and education. Conference symposia, workshops and poster presentations will allow for a variety of exchanges on issues associated with the seven overarching sub-themes and will pose the question ‘what type of policies and practice need to be developed to improve the life chances of vulnerable people?’

Sub Themes

1. Inclusive Policies and Practices

Inclusive policies and practices are those that promote equal rights and efforts to eliminate injustice for everyone. Special focus within this sub-theme will be on women who are exposed to violence and oppression in various contexts; vulnerable children and their rights to education, care and to have their voice heard, oppression and persecution due to sexual orientation; the right to religious freedom and inclusive faith-based practice.

2. Human Rights, Ethics and Dilemmas in Social action

Social work is a human rights-based profession. Social workers accept the universal UN-Convention on Human Rights and rely on the professional code of ethics in which the solidarity and dignity of all people play a crucial role. This sub-theme aims to examine and explore examples of how this is put into practice, as well as those issues and practices that challenge the code of ethics and create dilemmas in the implementation of human rights based and ethical social professional work.

3. Migration and Discrimination

Migration is a global phenomenon and states are affected by both emigration and immigration. The economic crisis in European Union member states has raised the risk of unemployment, poverty and marginalization of minority ethnic groups. Transnational relations imply a new kind of internationalism but tendencies towards discrimination and segregation are visible all over Europe. We aim in this sub-theme to reflect on strategies that avoid the exclusion of immigrants and minority groups and on how to promote their rights and inclusion in society.

4. Elderly people

There are a growing number of elderly people in our European populations… Elders can be conceptualised either as a resource or a burden upon their communities and society and we need to seek ways to utilize the resources that elderly citizens provide. Under this sub-theme we seek examples and discussion on how to further develop innovative methods and services to enable elders to live an active life through participation in society and to support participation in society when elderly people also have additional care needs.

5. Disability and inclusion

The Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is drawing increasing attention to the situation of disabled persons and their right to fundamental freedom. People with disabilities must be enabled to participate in education, employment and social life. Inclusive policy and social action are often confronted with attitudes and approaches that need to change. Under this sub-theme we will look at how inclusive policy and practice has been developed and implemented in different countries and how barriers can and must be challenged.

6. Social Professional Work in health Care Settings and promoting Well-Being.

Social work professionals have developed different approaches concerning physical and mental health and well-being in different social policy contexts. There are various practices that contribute to user’s well-being and respect patient’s rights in medical settings such as hospitals and health care centres. Under this sub-theme we will be examining examples of innovative practice, preventative and interdisciplinary work between social professionals, managers, medical staff and volunteers.

7. Sustainable development and social action

Environmental issues, such as global warming, fuelled by unscrupulous economic forces do not only affect the physical but also the social environment. Socio-economic and environmental problems in one country are connected to worldwide patterns of cause and effect.

It is increasingly self-evident that such global developments have an influence on the social life of individuals and groups at a local level. Social workers are gaining increasing awareness that they urgently need to develop new knowledge and strategies in order to respond to these disastrous trends. Social policy and social practice must contribute to sustainable social development and the protection of the physical and social environment. Within this sub-theme we are seeking to explore examples of proactive engagement with sustainable social, human and ecological development.