Current debates around participation and marginalization dominate the agenda of many European political forums. There is an increasing concern about the stability of social cohesion and a growing number of particular groups of people who are regarded as being at risk of being socially excluded or marginalized. This volume goes beyond the surface of public discussions to look at the central role played by welfare services in European societies in either strengthening or hindering participatory citizenship and democracy. In current discussions welfare services - understood in a broad sense - are centrally positioned: there are high expectations that welfare services can hinder marginalization and enable participation. Yet marginalization is, in most cases, rooted in the deeper structures of society, with economy, participation and involvement dependent on political or highly personal factors, which are beyond the scope of welfare services. This groundbreaking volume posits that participation and marginalization are ’twin’ concepts, expressing opposing sides of one and the same processes faced by individuals and communities. It will be essential reading for social workers, sociologists and policy-makers throughout Europe.
’Participation, a label once clearly connected with widening democracy, has many and quite different meanings these days. One of them is to be involved to some degree rather than being marginalized. Welfare services have a key role in this. The analytical contributions and case studies in this book give a rich portrait of the challenges that arise when strategies for involvement by service support and activation oscillate between building capacities and quests for conformity.’ Adalbert Evers, Justus-Liebig-University, Germany ’The contributors to this versatile volume explore inherent contradictions in the institutional arrangements, policies and discourses of contemporary Scandinavian and European social regimes. Based on a range of local studies, the authors problematize claims of social service involvement, and insightfully reformulate a handful of notions associated with citizen participation. This is a timely book for professionals, academics and students. It grapples with an urgent question, suggesting emergent forms of solidarity.’ Adrienne Chambon, University of Toronto, Canada