Social cohesion as a shared responsibility
The ability of society to ensure universal well-being should be seen as a responsibility for all components of society. During the XX century. it was believed that the responsibility for the common welfare lies with the state ("welfare state" - "Welfare State") - in addition to the crucial role that the family and traditional ties could play - while the responsibility for economic development lies with business circles. The economic problems that have emerged in recent decades and the globalization of the economy have shown that such a model is already inadequate and that the general welfare should become a goal shared by all members of society. Such a new approach does not mean that the state should abandon its obligations, but implies a search for more diverse forms of activity with the involvement of new partners.
Clarification and confirmation of the most important role of the state and other public bodies
In an era when the very role of the state is widely discussed, it is necessary to clarify and confirm the most important responsibility of governments in the field of social policy.
First, the state acts as a guarantor of human rights and democracy through participation.
Secondly, the state restores a sufficient level of equality in the distribution of wealth through mechanisms such as the redistribution of taxes and social security. Social security systems are one of the strongest expressions of social solidarity at the state level. The creation or maintenance of a well-developed system of social security based on solidarity is seen as one of the main means of developing social cohesion. The social cohesion strategy should therefore have as its primary objective the strengthening of long-term social security systems, especially now that many questions arise regarding the development and financing of such systems in the future.
Third, the role of the state is to protect vulnerable groups that are threatened by social exclusion. Social protection systems are not limited, therefore, to social security, which is designed to protect all members of society from the risks of everyday life, but also implies the provision of social services for all and social assistance to those who are in an extremely difficult situation. >
And while this state responsibility remains critical, the approach to meeting these responsibilities is changing.
In many countries there is a tendency to approach social services to users, by transferring responsibility for this to local and regional authorities. In addition, governments are increasingly convinced that it is easiest to ensure access to social rights through working in partnership with civil society in order to fulfill joint tasks in the field of social cohesion. The long tradition of dialogue with social partners should be preserved and adapted to the development of the situation. A new phenomenon is the strengthening of partnership between governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the sphere of social problems. Identifying and responding to new social needs, NGOs can often play a valuable complementary role along with official bodies, providing access to social rights for the most vulnerable members of society.
These changes in the concepts and methods of managing the affairs of society imply the rejection of the idea of the "omnipresent state" and the adoption of new concepts of partnership or management of public affairs in the form of a contract between citizens and the state. However, it is necessary to define ethical principles in order to ensure that such a partnership really contributes to social cohesion.
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