PREFACE: The SOSTRIS project (Social Strategies in Risk Society) formed part of the European Commission's Fourth Framework TSER (Targeted Socio-Economic Research) programme concerning Social Exclusion and Social Integration in Europe. SOSTRIS began in March 1996 and ran for three years. Using biographical-interpretative methods, the first stage of the project focused on six social groups: unemployed graduates, early retired people, unqualified youth, single parents, ex-traditional workers and ethnic minorities. The second stage of the research was based on 'flagship agencies' which appeared to be particularly successful or innovative in combating social exclusion with the particular groups under study. The project also involved policy meetings, which were held in each country, sometimes with local and agency professionals, sometimes with regional and governmental policy-makers and researchers, and also with social policy academics. The meetings were a vehicle for promoting dialogue between researchers and policy makers and feeding the findings and issues raised by the SOSTRIS project into policy and political debate.
ASTRACT: The SOSTRIS project (Social Strategies in Risk Societies) drew on concepts of individualization and reflexivity to explore the meanings of 'exclusion' in seven countries in modern Europe -Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden. Its first phase used socio-biographic methods to investigate six categories of risk: the early retired, single parents, ethnic minorities and migrants, unqualified youth, and ex-traditional workers. Its second phase adapted this method to investigate 'flagship agencies' which were believed to be making innovative responses to problems of social exclusion.
In a state-of-the-art report, the project explored the concept of social exclusion as a 'political artefact' within the process of Europeanisation, and outlined the diversity of intellectual traditions which contribute to the framing of the concept. Its case studies led to a comparison of 'life journeys' in contemporary Europe, featuring the biographical resources available to different groups and generations in different social contexts, and their strategies and reflexive skills in negotiating between their aspirations, resources and opportunities. One of the most valuable emergent products of the study of life course transitions and of the experience of social transformations has been the disclosure and elaboration of the distinctive qualities of each of the seven societies, through the dialogue of its researchers in comparing cases. The project points to rich potential use in the teaching of comparative social policy as well as in professional training.
The study of flagship agencies in the second phase of the project was also concerned with the turn to the subject, to reflexivity and the promotion of more active forms of welfare, but this time in relation to the management of professionals resources, competence building, and the mobilization of social capital. A notable feature of this work lay in the pioneering application of biographical methods to agencies.
We argue that working with an understanding of individual and collective social strategies involves a major change in policy thinking. At the European level more proactive support is needed for the re-balancing of public and private spheres, the transformation of gender roles, and the mobilization of social capital, all of which are central to the management of transitions, by individuals, by agencies and by whole societies. Politicians must give public recognition to the traumatic nature of much social change, and create a public discourse which seeks to renew and develop social connectedness.
Sociology department of NSPH has contributed with the articles:
1. Working Paper 1: The traditional and the modern coexisting: social exclusion in Greece, Liz Mestheneos, Elli Ioannidi and Chrysa Tselepi
2. Working Paper 2: Greek National Report, Liz Mestheneos and Elli Ioannidi
3. Working Paper 3: Greek National Report, Liz Mestheneos and Elli Ioannidi
4. Working Paper 4: Autochthonous and new minorities in Greece, Greek National Report, Liz Mestheneos and Elli Ioannidi
5. Working Paper 5: Unqualified unemployed youth, Greek National Report, Liz Mestheneos and Elli Ioannidi
6. Working Paper 6: The Social consequences for workers of industrial reconstructing, Greek National Report On Ex-industrial workers, Liz Mestheneos and Elli Ioannidi, Sextant Co, Greece
7. Working Paper 7: Cocooned or Trapped?, Greek National Report, Liz Mestheneos and Elli Ioannidi
8. Working Paper 8: Confronting the position of women and minorities in a period of modernization, Greek National Report, Liz Mestheneos and Elli Ioannidi