Special Articles / Ashok Antony D'Souza / Social Development through Social Work
All modern nation states - as they profess to be democratic and are elected on the basis of the promises made to all their constituencies – have to carry out social welfare and developmental functions. This they are expected to do by regulating the social and economic relations so as to ensure the wellbeing of all its citizens. Social Workers, while meeting people’s individual, group, community and societal needs independently, partner with their governments in ensuring that right kind of social policies are framed and implemented effectively through proper planning so that people are not just relieved of their penury but are also enabled to lead an empowered and dignified life. Hence, through the methods such as Community Organization, Social Work Administration, Social Action and Social Work Research, professional Social Workers have ample opportunity to realize their social work goals by influencing social policies and planning from micro to macro levels.
Social Development through framing appropriate social policies and planning is expected of the governments as modern nation states have an unsaid social contract with their citizens which they must fulfill if they have to remain relevant and in power. This is because, feelings of nationalism and patriotism are not mere emotions; they influence state policy and relations with other states. State autonomy and its capacity to be influenced from social forces has also been a defining factor. In this regard, the state has been seen in relation to other institutions within society and has also been viewed as being above all societal linkages. State-society linkages have thus provided an interesting insight into the exploration of associational behaviour. With state membership and citizenship, there are associated values of equality, liberty, justice and freedom. Regime types also determine the nature of the state: the democratic state seeks to ensure equality, justice and similar liberal ideals to all its citizens.
Given the fact that the Indian state has a developmental promise to fulfill in a diverse multicultural society, negotiations with dominant classes were necessary in order to ensure continuing legitimacy accorded to the state. However, these negotiations served to protect only the elite and vast tracts of deprivation and neglect soon became obvious.
India has been experiencing a consistently high growth rate during the post-liberalisation period following the implementation of economic reforms in the early 1990s. It has achieved excellence in several key areas ranging from information technology and pharmaceuticals to automotive parts, and is now considered as one of the fastest growing economies of the world. Despite these positive developments, India is still among the countries with some of the lowest indicators of human development. Its levels of malnutrition, illiteracy and poverty are unacceptably high. The rise in income inequalities and regional disparities is also a matter of concern. Employment has grown, but the jobs created are not of high quality. Although there has been an expansion in several social services like health, nutrition and education, the quality of most of these services remains poor in most of the rural areas. And above all, an overwhelming majority of the population is deprived of basic social protection. Policy-makers are thus faced with a paradox—the persistence of deprivations and increasing insecurities among a large section of the population amidst growing affluence and prosperity for some. The Eleventh and Twelfth Five-Year Plans have also reflected upon these concerns and have highlighted the need for balanced and ‘inclusive growth’.
Prof. Nayyar (Institute for Human Development, 2010) opines that economic growth cannot be completely disengaged from social development, since such a growth would neither be possible nor sustainable in the long run. Hence, let us, first try to understand the theoretical contours of ‘development’ in general and ‘social development’ in particular.
The Development Debate
We frequently come across the words ‘growth’ and ‘development’ while talking about society. Growth is a quantitative concept whereas development incorporates qualitative aspects. Some perceive development in terms of better roads, electricity, markets, buildings, vehicles etc. while some others understand it in terms of removal of poverty, unemployment, insecurity, illiteracy, ill health and so on. What constitutes development can be a matter of debate, and opinions may vary. Lately, there has been a realization that development does not just comprise of economic growth or physical infrastructure development, but it should also show in terms of improvements in people’s lives. So development has now come to be evaluated in terms of human wellbeing or human development. We all know the age-old proverb ‘health is wealth’. A person who is not healthy cannot have happiness and meaning in life even if he/she is rich. Similarly, nations cannot be said to be healthy and happy only because they are wealthy. It has to be visible in spheres other than economic prosperity.
After winning independence from colonial powers in the 1950s and 1960s, many of the countries (called Third World) chose the growth oriented approach of development through industrial and agricultural expansion, aided by technology transfer and financial assistance from the industrialized countries as well as international financial institutions. The growth-led developmental experience of industrialized countries served as the models of their future. The decade of 1960s was characterized by the predominance of “growth models” of development. Such models proposed that increasing the growth of these economies through investments would lead to higher growth, the benefits would ‘trickle down’ to the masses and there would be economic development.
Many of these economies achieved growth. The per capita income of a number of countries had grown over this period and health and education levels had improved; yet in a number of countries which had experienced a rise in their GNP, the standard of living did not improve for a vast majority of the population. In fact, many millions joined the already hundreds of millions of people in absolute poverty (Webster, 1997).
In many countries, sharp inequalities appeared with the rich minority growing richer and the poor majority becoming poorer. In other words, the “trickle down” had not occurred. This necessitated a reexamination of the concept of development. In this context, Seers (1969) asked three important questions regarding development: “What has been happening to poverty? What has been happening to unemployment? What has been happening to inequality? If all three of these have declined from high levels, then beyond doubt this has been a period of development for the country concerned.
If one or two of these central problems have been growing worse, especially if all three have, it would be strange to call the result ‘development’ even if per capita income doubled.”
Critics of growth-oriented approach argued that such a situation arose because sufficient attention was not paid to real human welfare. It was argued that a complete change of approach for third world development was needed. Economists like Streeten and Seers advocated for a programme that had its essential ingredient a redistribution of income and resources downwards. This led to the strategy of “redistribution with growth”, and later the “basic needs strategy” of development. The basic needs strategy was concerned with two things: i) providing all human beings, particularly the poor and deprived in the third world countries, with material needs like food, clothing, shelter and fuel; and ii) alleviating absolute poverty as quickly as possible. It had elements of social justice.
Gradually, it was realized that development must focus beyond meeting the basic needs of people in poor countries. It should encompass all the opportunities needed to live a fuller human life. Also, human beings should not be seen as recipients of development benefits, but as the goals of development. And while discussing human well being, it is the poorest and the weakest sections that must be especially taken into consideration. With this, the preoccupation with growth is replaced by a holistic idea of human welfare or wellbeing as the central concern of development. Growth is meaningful if it enhances human well being. This approach is known as the human development approach.
As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, development means a gradual unfolding; a fuller working out, of the details of anything; the growth of what is in the germ. Thus, we can apply the term to understand the development of a child or of a disease. However, its usage in the last five decades in social sciences has been quite different and complex. It has been used in different ways by different people. Development inevitably means different things for different individuals and social groups. Due to different assumptions made about the nature of the development process, various words are frequently used to describe the process. Areas where development is slow, for instance, the economically backward areas are termed as less developed, developing, underdeveloped, and traditional.
a) Development as Industrialization and Technological Advancement
The term development has been used to make a distinction between the prosperous industrial societies versus the rest of the societies and also to describe the process of industrialization and modernization. This usage has several distinctive features and does not take into consideration the general theories like the theory of social evolution. It takes into account only a specific kind of changes, which occur either at the present time or took place in the recent past.
Three terms are commonly used to indicate the stage of development: traditional societies, transitional societies, and modern societies. Growth of knowledge and control over nature, which in other words, means development of human powers of production, is treated as the most significant element in the transformation of a society. Technological determinism and industrialization are the important features of this type of development.
Industrialization, urbanization and development are related processes. Increasing urbanization and rising number of factories and movement of goods and labour from rural areas to urban areas are the inevitable consequences of these processes. Industrialization, in fact, is a phase of economic development in which capital and labour resources shift both relatively and absolutely from agricultural activities to industry. Industrial production can be contrasted with craft production in terms of its scale; employment of a large number of workers; use of machinery; and the resulting geographical concentrations and production for a large market. Thus, the key elements of an industrial society seem to be the type of technology employed in production, the scale of organization of labour in relation to that technology, and the extent of specialization leading to various types of changes in society. With the introduction of new technologies, less labour is required for agricultural production and more for industry. The industries being more concentrated in the urban areas the surplus of rural agricultural labour migrates to the urban areas. The migrated population has to find new ways of earning a livelihood with new rules. These changes, besides technological changes, include changes in the way people come to see themselves and others and changes in the ideological framework. In the process, a contradiction is said to exist between the forces of production, such as technology, technical knowledge, and crafts, and their relationships with production like legal arrangements, social organizations, forms of contracts, forms of distribution, etc.
Modernization theory, building on the ideas of Durkheim and Weber, emphasizes that industrialization involves changes in people’s attitudes and expectations as well as in the structure of their relationships. Planned changes in economic, social, political and other spheres have been more recently defined as development.
b) Development as Socio-Cultural Development
Since the 1960s there is an increasing emphasis by sociologists to look at development from a ‘holistic’ point of view. This means, defining development not only in terms of industrialization or economic dimensions but also in terms of socio-cultural dimensions. Until recently, the popular notion was that economic growth was a sufficient and necessary condition to stimulate development in all other sections of society. This has been proved incorrect.
Economic advancement of one group of people has not and does not trickle down to all other groups in a society. Also the achievement of high levels of economic advancement by some countries has not helped to solve some of their serious social problems. It is therefore, increasingly being emphasised that the ultimate aim of development is the improvement of the quality of life of every human being in society. Development is multidimensional. It takes into consideration matters like equity, social participation, environmental sustainability, decentralization, self-reliance, basic human needs satisfaction etc.
Some sociologists emphasize that improvement in quality of life involves psychological, social and moral dimensions apart from political, economic and cultural dimensions. For instance, they point out that an improvement in the psychological quality of life entails the idea of life satisfaction including positive mental health. This requires a proper balance between material and non-material life goals of a people. The improvement in social quality of life means an increase in the strength of family stability, interpersonal bonds and social solidarity. An improvement in the moral quality of life means developing a concern for others and not merely a concern for self. (Sharma 1986: 20). Thus the sociological approach to development looks at this process as alterations that affect the whole socio-cultural matrix of society. Development has come to mean a planned, stimulated movement of all sectors of a social system in the direction of the overall desired goals set by a society.
Today Sociology of Development attempts to understand development and experiences of masses in a particular society in respect of their struggle to survive and change. One of the important aspects of Sociology and Development is to understand how transition occurs in society from one stage to another.
In the contemporary world, ecological perspectives and social aspects are of equal concern alongside economic issues, in the concept of Development.
In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), gave this definition: “Economic and social development that meets the needs of the current generation without undermining the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
There are many other understandings of “Sustainable Development”. Among them, the following are noteworthy:
Many of the ideas that are now embedded in the concept of sustainable development have been around for a long time – from as long ago as the work of Malthus on population growth in the late 1700s. But the concept really only emerged during debates in the early 1970s following a range of key publications drawing attention to man’s over-exploitation of the environment, focusing on economic development and the growing global concern about development objectives and environmental constraints, and examining the inextricable links between environment and development.
A Global Commitment to Sustainable Development was made during the 1992 Earth Summit, which approved a set of five agreements, and although they all deal with the sustainable use of the environment, Agenda 21 focuses on social aspects, and lays out a global plan of action.
Agenda 21 says that human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
The five agreements covered at the Earth Summit are:
“Meeting the needs of the present” means satisfying:
The aim of sustainable development is to optimize the realization of a society’s many social, environmental and economic objectives at one and the same time, preferably through a process of integration, but more usually with bargains (trade-offs) made among different interest groups.
The question then arises: who should make the decisions on trade-offs? This calls for the widest possible participation in negotiations - international, national, state, panchayats and even in villages (e.g. who should have the power for the allotment of Ashraya houses).
National governments are responsible for providing the conditions which both permit and facilitate the necessary dialogue and negotiation between all sectors and interest groups in society. The development of national strategies for sustainable development, could lead to greater democracy, encourage an overhaul of institutional arrangements, administrative procedures and legislative frameworks, as well as foster consensus among different strata and groupings in society.
Defining Social Development
Development, according to Social Development theorists, is a process of social change, not merely a set of policies and programs instituted for some specific results (International Commission on Peace and Food, 1994).
According to Bilance (1997), “Social Development is the promotion of a sustainable society that is worthy of human dignity by empowering marginalised groups, women and men, to undertake their own development, to improve their social and economic position and to acquire their rightful place in society…..”. Amartya Sen (1995) opines that “Social Development is equality of social opportunities”.
The Copenhagen Social Summit, 1995 defined Social Development in terms of three basic criteria: i) Poverty Eradication, ii) Employment Generation, and iii) Social Harmony.
Bilance, Holland, a development Agency, speaks of three Components of Social Development. They are i) the fight against Poverty, ii) development by people themselves, and iii) a rightful place in society. It also states three fields of operation within Social Development. These are: i) Basic Services, ii) Means of Existence, and iii) Human Rights and Democratic Domain. Three fixed measuring points for Social Development, according to Bilance are i) gender, ii) sustainable development, and iii) social cohesion.
While the above definitions and descriptions open us out to the wide horizons of Social Development, we need to develop our own indigenous definitions and indices of Social Development in India by using all the variables deemed appropriate for our specific conditions.
When we talk of “development” in the social development field, we essentially and primarily refer to the development of human beings in a sustainable manner – particularly those who are resource poor, needy and marginalized.
James Midgley (1995) has had a decisive impact on the international discussion on social development. He conceives it as a “process of planned social change designed to promote the well-being of the population as a whole in conjunction with a dynamic process of economic development” (Midgley 1995, p. 25). The goal of social development in the context of modern welfare is to produce a social well-being that makes people capable of acting and making their own decisions in the broadest sense. Midgley’s definition of social development “as a process of promoting people’s welfare” can be elucidated as an enabling perspective, because it focuses attention on the potentials for action without forgetting the structural constraints to which actors are subject. The strengths of social development lie in the fact that its intervention strategies address the macro-, meso-, and micro levels. This means that it draws local communities into its strategy packages just as much as governments and international organizations.
Thus, social development can be understood as a process which results in the transformation of social structures in a manner which improves the capacity of the society to fulfill its aspirations.
For social development we need to listen to poor people and promote their voices in the development process; understanding and addressing their needs, priorities and aspirations; and building formal and informal institutions for this to happen.
Measuring Social Development
Various indictors such as per capita income and GDP are used by economists to measure the development achieved by a country. However, as Prof. Nayyar (Institute for Human Development, 2010) has pointed out, the rise in per capita income and overall GDP growth rates in India during the period 1980–2010 do not reflect the real picture, and being mathematical averages, do not indicate the development index for the poorer sections. It is because India has not been able to meet the basic needs of a vast population of 50 million that continues to live in acute poverty and deplorable conditions. Hence, development experts have tried to develop some other indicators to address critical questions such as, what proportion of the GDP is required to be redistributed to improve this situation; and since 1981 how far have the people above the poverty line moved away? We have tried to present here a few of the significant indicators developed by development experts to measure or assess the level of social or human development achieved by a particular society or community.
Human Development Index (HDI)
The concept of ‘human development’ was formally launched in 1990 with the publication of Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The conceptualization of human development has been influenced by late economist Mahbub ul Haq and Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen’s ideas of ‘capabilities’ and ‘freedom’. According to Sen, development is the expansion of freedom, well being and dignity on individuals in society.
Human development is concerned primarily with the reduction of human deprivation, the creation of human capability, and unleashing processes that enlarge peoples’ choices. India Human Development Report (1999) defines Human Development as “a process of enlarging peoples’ choices… The most critical choices that people should have, include a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and income, assets and employment for a decent standard of living… (But) human development concerns more than the formation of human capabilities such as improved health or knowledge. It also concerns the use of these capabilities”.
Haq (2000) has given the following main features of human development:
The Human Development Index (HDI) is prepared in terms of capabilities of three basic dimensions of human development: i) life longevity, ii) knowledge (adult literacy and combined primary, secondary and tertiary enrolment), and iii) decent standard of living (real per capita income).
The Human Poverty Index (HPI)
The Human Poverty Index (HPI), meant for most deprived sections of the community, is based on deprivations in the essential elements of decent human life. These include: i) basic survival (death before age 40, child and maternal mortality), ii) educational levels (% of illiterate adults), iii) overall economic provisioning (% of people without access to health services and safe water), and iv) sustainability (% of underweight children under 5).
The Gender-related Development Index (GDI)
The Gender-related Development Index (GDI) measures the above variables in terms of inequality between women and men.
Gender deprivation and inequality has long been the subject of discussion in development. One of the critiques of HDI was that it did not take into account the differential impact of development on men and women. To address this issue, a new measure was invented in 1995. The Human Development Report of 1995 states that “human development, if not engendered, is endangered”.
For measuring GDI, inequalities between men and women are taken note of and then the overall achievement of men and women in three aspects of HDI — life expectancy, educational attainment, and adjusted real income are considered. On the basis of analysis of GDI values, many meaningful observations have been made such as gender equality is not dependent on the income level of a society. Since 1995, these measures form an integral component of the human development reports.
Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM)
The Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) focuses on participation - economic, political and professional. It finds out the extent to which women have been empowered or enfranchised to participate in various aspects of public life as compared to men.
Given the large heterogeneous nature of India, national indicators often hide the considerable variations that exist from State to State, region to region. There is also the need to look at relative indices of different groups of people and regions, especially the disadvantaged sections in India. This reality is reflected in the following observations made by India Human Development Report (1999) which reads, “........ Even the average HDI figure masks much of the variation across different regions and groups of people, especially, in large countries such as India. It is thus important to obtain a picture of the levels of living of the disadvantaged regions and groups of people in a country in order to evaluate the success of national development programmes in improving the life of the less well off.... Since practically all human development investments are made by the State Governments in India, substantial inter-State variations in this may be expected........”
Theories of Social Development
Pat Shannon in his book ‘Social Policy’ provides six stances of social policy. These are:
i) Classical Liberalism (Residual Theory), ii) Industrial Society theory (Institutional Theory), iii) Marxist/Socialist Theory (Normative Theory), iv) Radical Reformism, v) Defensive Fabianism, and vi) Welfare Pluralism.
Let us try to briefly understand the meaning of each of them.
This theory is primarily concerned with the market as the root of the economic system. The role of government is to stimulate economic growth and recovery. This means that the state will not get involved in providing social welfare services or, where it already does, it withdraws from them.
Industrial Society Theory
This viewpoint recognizes an equal balance between economic and political systems and the market as important but in need of regulation. The public policy approach therefore is based on state management, and employment is the key economic and social indicator of how successful this is.
This theory is based on the idea, that one group has all the means of production (the capitalist class) and the other provides the means of labour (the working class). It is a theory based on the idea that workers are exploited. The role of the state is to support capital accumulation through the construction of infrastructure and to provide services – like education and health -that ensure this occurs.
This theory accepts the social control function of the welfare state. It questions the class-based society and favours a society in which a variety of movements are loosely connected and integrated with a decision making process based on participation.
This theory argues for social/welfare and economic policies to be given equal time and space with equity and redistribution as the goals of social policy. There are however two schools of thought as to how this can be done.
The first is that this is to be achieved through centralized intervention that is agreed to by the state, the business sector and the populace in general who are described as labour/workers. The second is that this is to be achieved through decentralization with better targeting and selectivity of benefits and services.
This theory is a mix of the Classical Liberalism and Industrial Society Theory where social welfare services are provided by a mix of state, voluntary and commercial organizations.
Approaches to Social Development
Approaches to social development may be briefly categorized as i) Sectoral Approach, ii) Area Development Approach, and iii) Area Development Approach.
i) Sectoral Development: Planning for development by individual sectors like education, health, housing and social security are included in sectoral planning. This approach advocates compartmentalization of development in different sectors as if these are watertight compartments and have nothing to do with each other. Its inadequacies stem from this compartmentalized approach. Little attempt is made to integrate them.
ii) Area Development Approach: This approach contemplates that development of an area depends not only on the development of an adequate infrastructure network but also the way factors of the local economy are activated around the production infrastructure. In other words, for development of an area, spatial and functional integration is necessary. Thus, while rural growth centers provide ideal locations for the provision of infrastructural facilities, their hinterlands are regarded as basic planning units for integrated multi-sectoral planning to achieve integrated development of an area.
The approach, while taking area poverty into consideration, provides a balance between various sectoral activities as well as spatial pattern of growth; however, it does not ensure that economic growth is being shared by all classes and communities of the rural areas.
iii) Integrated Development Approach: In the context of problems in the area development approach as discussed above and the government policy to tackle the problems of rural poverty, a new strategy of development, i.e. the integrated development approach has been developed because the area development approach by and large failed to address the question of inequalities in the distribution of employment, incomes and assets. A mere geographical emphasis, as is the case with the area development approach, has been found to be inadequate in solving the problems.
Some other Approaches to Social Development:
Three main areas/approaches to social development are:
i) Social Assistance (non-contributory)
ii) Social Insurance (contributory)
iii) Social Defense (protection)
i) Social Assistance
The beneficiaries do not contribute to it and the benefits are provided as a matter of right and without any “means test”. Whereas in charity or poor relief (different from Social assistance), here is some stigma about them and are generally granted after a “means test”. The examples of social assistance are old age pension, widow pension, assistance to leprosy patients, family planning assistance, etc.
ii) Social Insurance
The beneficiaries also contribute to it in addition to State and others. Example Life Insurance, Accident Insurance, Medical Insurance (Mediclaim), ESI Scheme for workers, Crop Insurance, Theft Insurance, Fire Insurance, etc.
The principle behind social insurance is that people earn benefits by contributions, paid while they are at work. The advantages of an insurance scheme are:
iii) Social Defense
Social Defense refers to mainly the protection of society from anti-social and criminal conducts. The examples would be eradication of beggary, gambling control, prostitution control, welfare of prisoners, anti-dowry measures, suicide counselling, etc.
In sum, social security considers three essential elements viz., security of employment, security of income and security of right to work. This forms the basis for social welfare in industrialized and urbanized economies.
Social security is sometimes used to refer specifically to social insurance, but more generally it is a term used for personal financial assistance, in whatever form it may take. It is also referred to as “income maintenance”.
The reasons why financial assistance is given include:
Social protection or social security provide a set of instruments to bridge the gap between vulnerable groups and the non-vulnerable by diminishing people’s exposure to risks and enhancing their capacity to protect themselves against hazards/loss of income. Because of the strong redistributive character of most social protection policies, they were not favoured by conventional approaches during the 1980s-90s (except pension reform projects); in extreme cases like Bolivia, the Ministry of Social Security was closed down. However, social protection is necessary in any society because the benefits of growth do not reach all, and people do not have the same capacity to overcome risks. Given the urgency to eradicate poverty, social protection is currently at the forefront of the social development agenda.
Social Exclusion and Inclusive Development
Several research studies show that even in this century many people are excluded from development because of their gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability or poverty. The effects of such exclusion are staggering, deepening inequality across the world. The richest ten percent of people in the world own 85 percent of all assets, while the poorest 50 percent own only one percent.
Development can be inclusive - and reduce poverty - only if all groups of people contribute to creating opportunities, share the benefits of development and participate in decision-making. Inclusive development follows UNDP’s human development approach and integrates the standards and principles of human rights: participation, non-discrimination and accountability.
Social exclusion can be understood within three levels: individual, community, and global-structural/policies. Although examples are listed within these three specific levels, one must recognize the intersecting nature of social exclusion and its capacity to overlap within each.
Exclusion at the Individual Level
Marginalization at the individual level results in an individual’s exclusion from meaningful participation in society. An example of marginalization at the individual level is the exclusion of single mothers from the welfare system prior to the welfare reform of the 1900s. The welfare system is based on the concept of the universal worker; entitlement to welfare is based on one’s contribution to society in the form of employment. A single mother’s contribution to society is not based on employment resulting in the mother’s ineligibility of social assistance for many decades. In modern society, caring work is devalued and motherhood is seen as a barrier to employment. Single mothers are marginalized for their significant role in the socializing of children and due to views that an individual can only contribute meaningfully to society through employment. As a result single mothers continue to suffer from material deprivation, as well as their children. Another example of individual marginalization is the exclusion of individuals with disabilities from the labour force. Grandz discusses an employer viewpoint in hiring individuals living with disabilities as jeopardizing productivity, increasing the rate of absenteeism, and creating more accidents in the workplace. Cantor also discusses employer concern of the excessive high cost of accommodating people with disabilities. The marginalization of individuals with disabilities is prevalent today despite the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Employment Equity Act, academic achievement, skills and training.
Exclusion at the Community Level
Many communities experience marginalization, with particular focus in this section on Aboriginal communities and women. Marginalization of Aboriginal communities is a product of colonization. As a result of colonialism, Aboriginal communities lost their land, were forced into destitute areas, lost their sources of income, and were excluded from the labour market. Additionally, Aboriginal communities lost their culture and values through forced assimilation and lost their rights in society. Today various communities continue to be marginalized from society due to the development of practices, policies and programs that “met the needs of white people and not the needs of the marginalized groups themselves”. Yee also connects marginalization to minority communities when describing the concept of whiteness as maintaining and enforcing dominant norms and discourse. A second example of marginalization at the community level is the marginalization of women. Moosa-Mitha discusses the feminist movement as a direct reaction to the marginalization of white women in society. Women were excluded from the labor force and their work in the home was not valued. Feminists argued that men and women should equally participate in the labor force, the public and private sector, and in the home. They also focused on labour laws to increase access to employment, as well as recognize childrearing as a valuable form of labour. Today women are still marginalized from executive positions and continue to earn less than men in upper management positions.
Exclusion at the Global and Structural Level
Globalization (global-capitalism), immigration, social welfare and policy are broader social structures that have the potential to contribute negatively to one’s access to resources and services, resulting in marginalization of individuals and groups. Globalization impacts the lives of individuals and groups in many capacities with the influx of capitalism, information technology, company outsourcing/job insecurity, and the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Alphonse, George and Moffat discuss how globalization sets forth a decrease in the role of the state with an increase in support from various “corporate sectors resulting in gross inequalities, injustices and marginalization of various vulnerable groups”. Companies are outsourcing, jobs are lost, the cost of living continues to rise, and land is being expropriated by large companies. Material goods are made in large abundances and sold at cheaper costs, while in India for example, the poverty line is lowered in order to mask the number of individuals who are actually living in poverty as a result of globalization. Globalization and structural forces aggravate poverty and continue to push individuals to the margins of society, while governments and large corporations do not address the issues. Certain language and the meaning attached to language can cause universalizing discourses that are influenced by the Western world, which is what Sewpaul describes as the “potential to dilute or even annihilate local cultures and traditions and to deny context specific realities”. What Sewpaul is implying is that the effect of dominant global discourses can cause individual and cultural displacement, as well as an experience of “de-localization”, as individual notions of security and safety are jeopardized. Insecurity and fear of an unknown future and instability can result in displacement, exclusion, and forced assimilation into the dominant group. For many, it further pushes them to the margins of society or enlists new members to the outskirts because of global-capitalism and dominant discourses. With the prevailing notion of globalization, we now see the rise of immigration as the world gets smaller and smaller with millions of individuals relocating each year. This is not without hardship and struggle of what a newcomer thought was going to be a new life with new opportunities. Ferguson, Lavalette, and Whitmore discuss how immigration has had a strong link to access of welfare support programs. New comers are constantly bombarded with the inability to access a country’s resources because they are seen as “undeserving foreigners”. With this comes a denial of access to public housing, health care benefits, employment support services, and social security benefits. Newcomers are seen as undeserving, or that they must prove their entitlement in order to gain access to basic support necessities. It is clear that individuals are exploited and marginalized within the country they have emigrated. Welfare states and social policies can also exclude individuals from basic necessities and support programs. Welfare payments were proposed to assist individuals in accessing a small amount of material wealth. Young further discusses how “the provision of the welfare itself produces new injustice by depriving those dependent on it of rights and freedoms that others have…marginalization is unjust because it blocks the opportunity to exercise capacities in socially defined and recognized way”. There is the notion that by providing a minimal amount of welfare support, an individual will be free from marginalization. In fact, welfare support programs further lead to injustices by restricting certain behaviour, as well the individual is mandated to other agencies. The individual isforced into a new system of rules while facing social stigma and stereotypes from the dominant group in society, further marginalizing and excluding individuals. Thus, social policy and welfare provisions reflect the dominant notions in society by constructing and reinforcing categories of people and their needs. It ignores the unique-subjective human essence, further continuing the cycle of dominance.
We have tried to understand the theoretical contours of social development in this chapter. In the next chapter of this book we shall strive to understand the historical evolution of the idea of social development and the rationale for the continuance of social policy and planning in the contemporary world.
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