Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Social justice is no longer available ‘People come together through day-to-day activities, not 'integration projects' which too often feel irrelevant and prove unsustainable… Central to this will be ensuring that the integration benefits of programmes and projects are recognised and supported.’ These sentences come from a paper on Creating the conditions for integration published yesterday by DCLG. They suggest, first, that the government recognises the value of interactions in everyday life, so it must place value on a public realm where such integration can be stimulated and take place. That's a relief, the sceptic might have been wondering. Secondly it suggests that the government values the evaluation and demonstration of 'integration benefits' where they can be shown to have occurred. That's good too ain't it? The paper raises a few other points. First – I don’t think I have a problem with using the word integration rather than, say, cohesion (which is what we’d have expected in the past): but it might be interesting to ask why, why the change in vocabulary? At the Institute of Community Cohesion, they know about some of this stuff: do they feel snubbed, I wonder? Second – is there an understanding that social injustice, poverty and unequal access to power and influence might be critical barriers to integration and should be part of the equation? (Answer, no). Third – at least three times in the paper the following phrase is used: ‘We want to hear further ideas for action…’ but there is no channnel offered, no named author with contact details on the document, only the switchboard number for the entire department. Somebody’s not being sincere. And on the question of social justice, here’s some curious news. A week ago the DWP set up a survey to help define social justice (be quick if you want to catch that link): 'The government will shortly publish a social justice strategy paper, detailing a new approach to it. This will define what social justice means to the government, and principles and current practice underlying activity in this area. The government would like to know what social justice means to different stakeholder organisations, so would like organisations to complete a short survey.' If you follow the link now, this (at the moment) is what you see: This survey is no longer available. Please contact ( ) for further assistance..

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