Back to top

Indicators of social quality and social exclusion at national and community level

This article examines two approaches to measuring social quality and social exclusion using objective and subjective indicators. The concepts of social inclusion/exclusion are more multidimensional than the older concepts of poverty and deprivation but are still considered to be too narrow by policy makers in the EU. Social quality, "the extent to which citizens are able to participate in the social and economic life of their communities under conditions which enhance their well-being and individual potential," is offered as a more comprehensive alternative. Social quality is seen as a continuum containing four elements: social-economic security/insecurity (protection against material deprivation), social inclusion/exclusion (social inclusion minimizes inequality in access to goods and statuses), social cohesion/anomie (social cohesion maximizes solidarity and shared identity), and empowerment/disempowerment (could be an outcome or process related to realization of competencies to enable full participation). Subjective indicators of these elements are seen to be closest to the communities, groups and individuals and include empowerment as well as aspects of social inclusion and cohesion. Objective indicators are at the macro level and are more useful for measuring social-economic security and insecurity. These researchers suggest two levels of social exclusion indicators, at the national and community levels. Indicators at the national level measure accessibility to citizenship rights while those at the community level measure levels of participation and identification.