Workshop discussion 2 “Reporting about participation”

The soeb workshop discussions are an event format with which the research network opens up to a professional public for an exchange of its issues and concepts with selected independent experts.

A second two-day specialist public workshop discussion under the heading of "Reporting on participation" will take place in Goettingen on December 4-5, 2014.

Social reporting assesses social developments according to their individual welfare effects. Equality standards and concepts are generated in political and societal discourses and are following social developments. Scientifically based social reporting may reconstruct the normative input of such standards of  "a good Life" as well as the claims of equality therein, and translate them into observation concepts and indicators.

Whether nation-wide, state-wide, or community-wide, no matter for which policy field or subject – hardly any social report recently published in Germany gets by without reference to participation. In the debate over what violates societal equality standards and what the social state should compensate for, evidently participation represents the necessary contradistinction to precariousness and exclusion. Although the term clearly describes different things: a more or less broadly defined dimension of welfare and inequality ("social affairs and participation", "more or less participation"), a right to basic provision ("a minimum of participation") an equality objective ("equal participation", "inclusion"), or creative possibilities at work or in society ("participation"). Some of these interpretations refer to legal norms, others do not.

In the report of the Enquête Commission "Growth, Wealth, Quality of Life" (2013), which during this parliamentary term is supposed to build the starting point of a government strategy "Good Life – Quality of Life in Germany“, all of these different concepts are juxtaposed: participation as extra-economic wealth ("Wealth in the broader sense", "quality of life", "social inclusion"), as a norm of equal distribution of material wealth ("economic inclusion"), as a right to equality and as a possibility to democratisation. At the same time, different welfare dimensions are differentiated with labour participation, participation in consumption and cultural participation.   

Obviously, the scientific communication over the participation concept and the empirical investigation of participatory risks and chances was not able to keep pace with its discursive use. The scientific advisory board for the participation report of the federal government about the life situations of disabled persons (2013) commented that so far the concept of participation "is neither legally nor scientifically sufficiently clarified".

For the soeb network, the workshop discussion is part of a self-agreement on participation as a guiding concept of social reporting and welfare measuring. At the same time, a much broader communication over the scientific use of the term and its methodical consequences appears to be rewarding, so that, between different policy fields and reporting approaches, through a joint reference to one participation standard, a scientifically proven observation of social development will succeed in the future.

The program can be found here.

Documents (German)
Programm PDF
Bartelheimer, Peter: Teilhabe - eine Idee von Lebensqualität PDF