Quality of life of young disadvantaged people - SocIEtY Project

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SocIEtY is an international, interdisciplinary and collaborative research project funded by the Europeans Union's Seventh Framework Programme.


Thirteen partners from 11 European countries are working on the development of innovative social and institutional ways of improving the quality of life of young disadvantaged people.

The overall goal of SocIEtY is to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged young people through social innovation. In doing so the aim of SocIEtY is not only to identify opportunities to reduce inequalities, but also to extend and build knowledge and tools for the ultimate policy goal of a good life for all'.    

The project consequently takes the perspective of how young people aged 15-24 live in different European countries today; and examines what can be done to create social and institutional opportunities which will better enable them to live lives they have reason to value. This will include the participation, voices and aspirations of the young people themselves.

One main issue of SocIEtY is the development of a broad knowledge base to foster socially innovative policymaking which avoids some of the unnecessary shortcomings of current policies.

Taking the Capability Approach as the conceptual basis, SocIEtY will in particular refer to the concept of "Informational Basis of the Judgement of Justice" (IBJJ) introduced by Amartya Sen (Sen 1990). Thus the project will deliver an empirical foundation to broaden the informational basis of local policies in two ways: it will widen the focus on the policy fields of employment and education to a more coherent perspective taking more policy fields into account (1). Secondly, the basis will be informed by a bottom-up perspective, including the voice and aspirations of young people and their participative engagement (2).

As welfare states restructure themselves and redefine their public policies, especially those targeted at young people, this research will attempt to answer the following questions: how are public policies in favour of education, labour and social inclusion at European, national and local level set forth, implemented and evaluated? What are their innovative aspects? How do they apply in disadvantaged urban areas? What are their limits ? How is today's professional practice impacted ? in this context, how do young people construct their own aspirations? How do their careers vary when faced with such diversity of institutional models?  How many young people do not benefit from the public offer of rights and services they are entitled to? What are the obstacles and disincentives leading to non-use ? How could they be overcome? 

How can we innovate in terms of conception, implementation and evaluation of public policies to develop four core youth capabilities, as defined in the capability approach : capability to aspire, capability for voice, capability for education, capability for work? The originality of this project is to put to the forefront the experience, voice, aspirations and understanding of vulnerable youth while confronting them to the intentions of public policies actors. Contextualization of young people's career in their institutional and family environment is another major aspect of this research.

Contacts (Céreq):

Josiane VERO, Céreq, Marseille,

Thierry BERTHET and Véronique SIMON, Cereq's Associated centre of Bordeaux, Emile Durkheim Centre

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