The International Association on Social Quality (previously known as the European Foundation on Social Quality) aims to develop the social quality theory, methodology and policy application by exploring the dynamics of contemporary societies and their impact on the economic, socio-political and legal, socio-cultural and welfare, and environmental dimensions of daily circumstances.
Social quality is defined as “the extent to which people are able to participate in social relationships under conditions which enhance their well-being, capacity and individual potential. It refers to a new understanding of ‘the social’ as the result of the productive and reproductive relationships of people.
This provides a significant basis for a new vision on the main dimensions of societal life by distinguishing and enhancing:
- the objective conditions of daily life, including the socio-economic conditions people are living in, the social cohesion they experience in their communities, social inclusion to realise their civil rights and the extent of their social empowerment to enable them to play responsible roles in society and in the processes of societal change.
- the subjective conditions of life, as the degrees of personal security and social recognition, social responsibility and their personal capacities to combat situations and feelings of alienation, exploitation, discrimination and degradation.
- the normative conditions of life: social justice and equity; solidarity at community, national and international level; to promote the equal value of all people and to defend and enhance their human dignity. These also form the basic orientation to judge the outcomes of the linking of the objective and the subjective conditions.
By enhancing and defending these conditions for social quality the development toward sustainability as a state of dynamic equilibrium between human actors and the whole eco-system, remaining within its resilient boundaries, will be supported. This also implies investments into a sustainable urban development encompassing all policy areas of societal life and tackling the present gross inequalities between citizens, by supporting the transformation of cities and metropoles to create urban centres functioning as pillars for both sustainability and social quality.
For in-depth information read Working Paper 13: The Start and Development of the Social Quality Approach. An executive summary is also available.