About the Lab
Why study and compare socio-cultural inclusion and integration?
A major problem facing Asian and European countries is how to successfully promote social and cultural integration. Ensuring populations are adequately covered by social protection and safeguards is proving tough for hard-pressed welfare states with limited resources. This is particularly so in the case of vulnerable, excluded and marginalized groups. The failure to address their needs adequately has placed enormous burdens on health and social services. Moreover, these groups are often excluded from educational opportunities and from labour markets. This in turn costs national economies dear and represents a waste of a valuable resource.
In the context of post-socialism, issues relating to inclusion acquire specific features. The legacy of socialism is intertwined with neoliberal and neoconservative ideologies, which creates special challenges to social integration efforts. These problems underline the need for a comprehensive study of the diverse types of social integration, based on the identification of values and mechanisms of association or disunity within different types of communities and at different levels of social organization. Facilitators and barriers affecting exclusion and inclusion deserve our critical attention, as do the underlying mechanisms and processes at work. Effective policy responses depend on having the appropriate research and evidence base. A scientifically robust approach is required to inform strategies and actions by governments and their citizens. This is necessary to improve wellbeing and welfare in society, and to enhance integration and inclusiveness.
A New Initiative
The setting up of the International Laboratory of Social Integration Research at NRU-HSE forms part of the effort needed to generate the ‘know how’ and technical expertise. It will focus on international and interregional cooperation in research and teaching, and on creating an international network as a source of science, education, expertise and facilitation of social improvement and innovation.
What will the work cover?
The overall goal of the International Laboratory (IL) is to provide high quality research and development in respect of inclusion and integration in Central and Eastern Europe. The first research project for 2020-22 is the Study of Social Inclusion in Post-Socialist Countries. As well as addressing the issues and processes mentioned above, this project will take into account the role and significance of the institutions, actors and values involved. The programme of work has several components of note, including:
- Cross-cultural study of inclusion/exclusion practices within educational settings and communities in Eastern Europe and Russia (Russia, Baltic States, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Belarus, Poland, Czech Republic);
- Testing the impact of social security benefits on social inclusion. The study assesses whether there is a mutual effect of state support and social integration for Russia;
- Researching the role and potential of new technologies in overcoming social isolation and enhancing integration;
- Development of recommendations for schools and social services for disseminating inclusive strategies and facilitating civic engagement.
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