Getting a Grip on the Social Exclusion-Inclusion Conundrum

Social inclusion has been identified as one of the major objectives to strive for in the European Union as a whole. In the Europe 2020 Strategy, the EU has set a priority to induce more inclusive growth by fostering job creation and reducing poverty, a challenge made greater in the face of a prolonged economic crisis. Finding durable solutions to poverty and social exclusion arguably requires multi-sectoral and multi-level governance approaches to foster territorial cohesion and address socio-economic disparities in the continent's metropolitan regions. In this issue of Nordregio News, we explore the issues of poverty and social exclusion in an urban European context, consider how these issues are dealt with in a suburban municipality in the Stockholm Region and learn about a distinct approach to raise awareness among policy-makers.

Social exclusion is a phenomenon that is both highly localized geographically and that affects all types of urban regions, from the wealthier to the less developed ones. In that sense, it is a truly European concern, even if the extent of this problem in different metropolitan regions may widely differ in terms of spatial extent and societal acuteness.

In the first contribution of this issue, Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe, Isabel Ramos Lobato and Sabine Weck introduce the conceptual and policy contexts framing these two notions and highlight their intrinsic differences: while poverty is basically linked to low income levels, social exclusion is depicted as a complex series of processes relating to different spheres of integration. Limited access to public services acts as a key factor fostering social exclusion. Furthermore, a key dimension of social exclusion is the issue of urban segregation, and thus demanding innovative urban planning initiatives, while poverty relates to the reform of the national welfare regimes. The authors finally discuss the impact the recent economic and financial crises has accelerators of the social exclusion processes.

The second article, Towards Inclusion: Botkyrka's Approach to Urban Social Issues by Mitchell Reardon and Christian Dymén, presents empirical findings of a study about social exclusion in the municipality of Botkyrka in Sweden. The material provides interesting insights on the nature of the socio-economic mechanisms contributing to the formation of pockets of social exclusion, as well as efforts to resolve these issues, in one of the fastest growing and wealthiest metropolitan regions of Europe.

In the final contribution, Urbanization and its Socioeconomic Challenges, Evert Kroes introduces a novel approach undertaken by the Stockholm County Council to raise the awareness for developing truly integrated approaches for fostering social inclusion. The coordination of public interventions undertaken at the municipal level have traditionally been fragmented in the Stockholm Region, and the Urban Game enables participants to find innovative approaches for improving the coordination between sectors and across different administrative units.

We sincerely hope that this selection of articles will provide new ideas and food for thought in understanding the complex interplay between poverty, social exclusion and social inclusion and how innovative governance approaches may improve the capacity of actors to tackle these issues in the long run.

Alexandre Dubois

Senior Research Fellow

Mitchell Reardon

Research Fellow

and the Editorial Board

Back to Nordregio News Issue 3, 2014