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What Can the Human Development Approach Tell Us about Crisis?

An Exploration

Oscar A. Gómez

Recognizing the influence crises have in shaping global governance nowadays, the present work explores the possible contribution of human development thinking countering the perverse effects of shock-driven responses to major emergencies. This is done by focusing on contributions by Sen, Dreze, Haq and Stewart related to famines, violent conflict and the idea of human security, analyzed using a selection of four criteria, namely, describing the position of crisis inside human development thinking, issues of modeling and measurement, the stance toward agency, and the actors gathered around the discourse. After strengths and weaknesses are considered, the article suggests a tangential involvement through other human concepts, so human development ideas do not get muddled by the logic of shocks and fulfill the great responsibility of helping us avoid the many shortfalls of a security-obsessed view of humanity.

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Cohesion, Exclusion and Social Quality

Paul Spicker

The concept of social quality has been operationalized in terms of four component dimensions: social inclusion, social cohesion, socio-economic security and social empowerment. This article argues that inclusion and cohesion are aspects of the same underlying social construct. Societies are cohesive to the extent that they are bound by relationships of solidarity; people are included when they are part of solidaristic social networks. Where there is cohesion, there is solidarity, and where there is solidarity, there is inclusion. It follows that the attempt to define social quality in terms of a formal distinction between inclusion and cohesion is doomed to failure. They cannot be treated as distinct elements, and the attempt to distinguish them has led to double-counting.

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A Critical Qualitative Study of the Relationship between Social Empowerment and Participatory Democracy in the UK

Steven Corbett

The central aims of this article are, first, to theoretically explore the relationship between social quality (in particular, the conditional factor of social empowerment) and participatory democracy. This uses the democratic dialectic (Bernard 1999) as a normative guide to assess democratic values. Second, the article describes how this theoretical discussion of the social quality of participatory democracy can be operationalized in critical qualitative sociological research. This offers a new direction for social quality research, which has thus far involved theoretical development and the establishment and use of statistical indicators (Beck et al. 1998, 2001; van der Maesen and Walker 2012). The findings of two empirical case studies are called in as evidence that, to different extents, participatory democratic settings can be socially empowering. This research suggests implications for the full realization of social quality in existing liberal and social democratic societies.

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Editorial

This issue of the International Journal of Social Quality looks at the socio-political and socio-cultural dimensions of sustainability in social quality analysis. Some articles refer to the notion of sustainability, which stimulates transformative changes in society, and the consequences for the explicit or implicit integration with the sociopolitical dimension and the environmental dimension, as well as for the well-being of people all over the world, thus the socio-cultural dimension. Two interesting questions are, first, how can new forms of public participation and democratic practices and policies to stimulate environmental protection be developed, transforming the socio-political and legal context in order to contribute to the development of overall sustainability? Second, how can community involvement and new communication technologies be stimulated, which can be productive for the adequate transformation of the socio-cultural and welfare dimensions? Both issues were addressed in the Aarhus Convention of 1998, which highlighted information on environmental matters as a key right for citizens and a condition for effective public participation in decision-making processes. The concept of “social empowerment” connects the dimensions and – with reference to the four normative factors of social quality as well – delivers arguments for changing the dominant production, distribution and consumption systems and patterns.

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Environmental Public Participation in the UK

Hinrich Voss

The purpose of this article is to analyze environmental public participation in the UK from the perspective of the polluting organization. Public participation, or an organization's stakeholder management, describes various channels available for the public to engage with and influence decision-making processes. Over the lifetime of an organization, the public seeks to engage with the organization or with specific goods or services offered. Such concerns and requests are made, and the organization responds to them, according to how salient members of the public are as stakeholders at a given time and place. Using case study examples from the UK, I illustrate the channels of engagement, the public interest groups that do engage and how effective these procedures are. It follows from this that early, inclusive and open engagement with the objective of participation in decision-making processes are the most effective public participation models and have the greatest social quality potential.

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Environmental Sustainability as Indicator of Social Quality

The New Opportunities Offered by Communication

Renato Fontana and Martina Ferrucci

Compared to the European scenario that emerged from the analysis of Eurobarometer (2011–2014) surveys, we conducted a research on the opinions of the Italian students and professionals from eight focus groups about the relation between environmental issues, social quality and communication. The assumption is that communication is a strategic factor that could contribute to determining the social quality and, consequently, the satisfaction of the common people. The study demonstrates that it is necessary to plan well-thought-out communication activities aimed at increasing awareness of environmental issues. Findings from this study support the need to develop a greater awareness and a renewed critical consciousness of the relationships between person, environment and social quality.

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National Environmental Policy Development for Sustainable Economic Growth in Developing Countries

A Case Study of Pakistan

Syed Shahbaz Hussain and Pirzada Sami Ullah Sabri

This article analyzes and explores what policies Pakistan adopted to tackle its environmental challenges, effects and outcomes. The research consists of an overview of Pakistan's national environmental policy development and explains the motives and reasons to understand in what context the state formulates these policies. It also makes assessments and evaluations about to what extent policies are successful in achieving their objectives. The study suggests some implications of the Pakistan experience to cope with the global challenges of environmental protection.

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Sustainable Development as a Goal

Social, Environmental and Economic Dimensions

Vera Mignaqui

Scholars are researching how to assess a country's sustainable development performance. However, not many proposals differentiate the performance via the three dimensions of sustainable development: social, economic and environmental. This article proposes to assess a country's sustainable development performance in general as well as in each of the dimensions. It pursues three objectives: (1) identifying sustainably developed countries; (2) assessing the best performers in terms of sustainable development; and (3) understanding the relations between the dimensions. Results show a globally bad sustainable development performance, with no sustainably developed countries. They also show that the economic dimension is not the best performing dimension at a global level and that very high levels of gross national income (GNI) per capita usually imply a bad environmental performance.

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Emergence of New Welfare States in East Asia?

Domestic Social Changes and the Impact of "Welfare Internationalism" in South Korea and Taiwan (1945–2012)

Won-Sub Kim and Shih-Jiunn Shi

The development of social policy in East Asia has been gaining momentum in recent decades, challenging scholars to offer an explanation. This article addresses two questions: Are we witnessing the rise of welfare states in East Asia? And if so, what are the driving forces behind this development? We draw on theoretical perspectives of Franz-Xaver Kaufmann, who emphasizes the relationship between the state and civil society as the context of welfare statism, and who elaborated the role of international organizations and law in social policy ("welfare internationalism"). Choosing South Korea and Taiwan as examples, we explore the role of international policy diffusion, highlighting the interaction of international and domestic factors. We find that South Korea and Taiwan have indeed turned into welfare states, and that external "social" ideas, which have received little attention in previous research, have contributed to this development in different historical phases. Our analysis extends Kaufmann's perspective beyond Western welfare states.

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The Idea of Social Policy in Western Societies

Origins and Diversity

Franz-Xaver Kaufmann

Today, "social policy" is an expression used across the globe to denote a broad range of issues, such as old age security, health, housing and so on. But historically, "social policy" had a distinct European origin and a distinct meaning. I maintain that "social policy" and the "welfare state" are more than a list of social services, and also have strong socio-cultural underpinnings that account for the diversity of social policy. The idea of "social policy" emerged in mid-nineteenth-century Germany against the backdrop of secularization and functional differentiation of modern society. I then pinpoint the twentieth-century move from "social policy" to the broader cultural idea of a universalistic "welfare state." The idea emerged internationally as early as the 1940s, even before the post-WWII rise of national welfare states, which, as I argue, differ according to national notions of "state" and "society." To this end, I compare the UK, Sweden, Germany, France, and two non-welfare states, the United States and the Soviet Union.