Abstracts & Papers in Stream 1

Social inclusion and social cohesion are both usually seen as being positive attributes of society, with the ideal society being seen as both inclusive and cohesive. Yet some of the most cohesive societies, while being holistically inclusive of their citizens who conform, are also exclusionary of both non-conforming citizens and non-citizen residents. On the other hand, some of the least exclusionary societies often have low levels of social cohesion, partly because they welcome diversity, difference and multiculturalism. Three strands are discussed in this paper: migration; identity; and welfare. Migration, both within East Asian and on a global scale, is one of the defining characteristics of contemporary society and has substantial economic and social consequences - both positive and negative - for all but the most isolated and inward-looking societies. Loss of resourceful and skilled human resources counterbalanced by income from remittances affects emigrant countries whereas cheap skilled immigrant labour and potential social destabilisation and schism affects destination countries. Identity, particularly national identity, has always been strongly related to social cohesion and social inclusion. The historically complex identity discourses in East Asia (mainly, but not exclusively, related to Chinese identity) have become more complicated with the growth in transnational identity, among second generation Asian migrants in America and Europe as well as among intra-Asian migrants. Welfare is a problematic issue in relation to inclusion and cohesion. A highly cohesive society which provides extensive state welfare services (and is thus highly inclusive to its citizens) usually has also to be highly exclusionary, preventing, guest workers, asylum seekers, refugees and even legal immigrants from claiming full benefits. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the social quality theoretical approach which incorporated social cohesion and social inclusion, as well as socio-economic security and empowerment, within its overarching structure.

Full paper download: Phillips D_tensions in post-industrial world.pdf

This paper studies the excluding effects of the pro-market welfare-to-work programmes adopted by the Hong Kong Government. It focuses on the New Dawn Project which is designed to help single parents and child carers on the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme (CSSA) to cope with social exclusion. In this paper we argue that the Hong Kong Government under-estimates the significance of the defects of the labour market as the main cause of the social exclusion faced by many single parents and child carers. Hence, instead of launching structural reforms to deal with the defects of the labour market, it focuses on increasing the ability and willingness of the single parents and child carers on the CSSA to sell their labour in the labour market through the New Dawn Project. As a result, this project has two negative effects on its targets. Firstly, it wrongly blames the single parents and child carers for the unemployment faced by them. Secondly, the project further excludes those who find it difficult to meet the training requirements.

Full paper download: Chiu S_welfare to work in Hong Kong.pdf

Since the late 1980s, "how to activate the unemployed" has shaped the political discourse, the research agenda and legislative reforms of social security in the OECD countries. Hong Kong has followed this track closely and various changes have been introduced to the social security policies in the last decade. Prominent dimensions of change in policy reforms in the west, which include restricting entrance and accelerating exit, segmentation of participants, introduction of contractual obligations and formulation of work-oriented measures, have also been evidenced in the social security reform in Hong Kong. One of the major target groups of the welfare-to-work programmes is the single mothers. It is reported that the number of single parent families living on the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme (CSSA) has been on the rise in the past ten years. New work-oriented measures targeted at single parents were introduced which included the Intensive Employment Assistance Projects, the Ending Exclusion Project, and the New Dawn Intensive Employment Assistance Projects. While policy makers consider the virtues of personal empowerment, independence, social inclusion and self-realization being intrinsic to paid work, experiences of "work first" programmes in the west suggest that lots of paid jobs taken up by lone mothers are unlikely to achieve these objectives. Similarly, statistics provided by the Hong Kong Government reveal that jobs secured by the New Dawn Project participants are mainly of low income and low skill. The impact of the social security reform in Hong Kong on single mothers, however, has been understudied. In this paper, the various welfare-to-work programmes and their implementation will be examined in details in order to shed light on the situations of single mothers receiving welfare in Hong Kong. It is suggested that without the adequate support of child care services and a family-friendly employment policy, welfare-to-work programmes are unlikely to achieve social inclusion but are merely a tool of social control sanctioning those single mothers who cannot balance paid work and care work.

Full paper download : Hung S_welfare to work and sigle mothers.pdf

Mental illness is one of the major categories to distinguish people from each other, which functions to exclude certain people from self determination of daily living, and subjugate oneself to medical professions' decisions. Clubhouse, a long-recognized psychosocial rehabilitation model for psychiatric patients, has its roots in anti-psychiatry and mutual help movements, and thus is aimed to restore the subjectivity of mental patients through its special institutional and relational arrangements. In the normative level, the concept of social exclusion/inclusion will be adopted to analyze how the institutional arrangements of a clubhouse constitute a site of social inclusion for mental patients to capture the essence of clubhouse. In the empirical level, the experiences of Easy House will be analyzed to illustrate how the clubhouse principles are embodied to promote alternative subjectivity for mental patients. Participatory research is adopted as research design. Both written and oral Narratives of workers and members/patients are collected through a monthly gathering over a ten-month period. Findings show that a holistic view of human being is assumed in the everyday practices of clubhouse model to replace the subjectivity of patient which results from previous engagement with mental health system. Such process of replacement is not a one-time shot but a recursive and on-going one that requires persistence and reflexivity of workers to achieve such goal. We also find that the inclusive essence of clubhouse tends to be missed especially when current discourse on community-based rehabilitation defines 'community' in terms of physical location rather than a process of collective and resistant identity formation.

Full paper download: Wang F_social inclusion for mentally ill.pdf

This paper argues that the provision of public assistance in China was due to the need of the Chinese government to secure a stable society. The introduction of the Minimum Standard of Living Scheme (MSLS) in 1997 for city dwellers was mainly for reducing the dissatisfactions of laid-off workers. The implementation of the rural MSLS in 2007 aimed at minimising conflicts between land-losing farmers and local governments. This type of legitimacy-driven welfare intervention, however, is a key factor contributing to the social exclusion of poor Chinese people. As the main objective of the Chinese government is to secure social stability rather than to promote social justice, a minimal and stigmatised social assistance scheme was created. As a result, some social groups have been excluded from accessing public benefits because of local governments' discriminatory practices; and many MSLS recipients are unable to make ends meet due to an extremely low level of assistance.

Full paper download: Chan C_legitimacy-driven intervention.pdf

Economically inactive young people who are not pursuing any studies or training are regarded as a socially excluded or non-engaged group. This disadvantaged group is however characterized by heterogeneity and diversity particularly with respect to spatial and relational dimensions. Social withdrawal, arguably as an atypical form of social exclusion, is a term used to refer to youth who seclude themselves at home and reject most forms of contact and relationship with the outside world for an extended period of time. This paper argues that young people entrapped in social withdrawal experience an extreme form of social exclusion not only in terms of being deprived of enjoying a legitimate social status and leading a social life with friends or peers, but also in terms of being invisible to the policy makers and suffering from inclusive measures that are paradoxically inflexible and exclusionary. With the use of empirical data and case studies, this paper discusses this new phenomenon and draws implications for policy and organizational practices that are more flexible and target-sensitive.

Full paper download: Wong V_young people in social withdrawal.pdf