Commission publishes synthesis report of social science dialogue workshops

June 17, 2004

Brussels, 16 Jun 2004

The European Commission has published a synthesis report on a series of workshops that took place to diffuse information on recent social science research in Europe.

The Dialogue Workshops were launched in 2000 with the objective of facilitating the exchange of views and information between researchers in social sciences and humanities with policymakers, business, non-governmental organisations and citizens at large. Funding for the initiative is continuing under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) within the 'Citizens and governance in a knowledge-based society' thematic priority.

The workshops are described as 'a forum for both knowledge development and of knowledge diffusion across projects and beyond the research community' by Director-General of the Commission's Research DG, Achilleas Mitsos, in his preface to the report. 'They have also proved to be highly effective for promoting communication and understanding between the research and policy making communities in Europe,' he writes.

The report is divided into two sections: 'social cohesion and welfare policies' and 'citizenship, governance and conflict resolution'. Each section reports on six workshops that took place between 2000 and 2003. The report relates the different research methods and theories, diverse opinions, experiences and critiques presented at each.

At the workshop on social exclusion, activation and welfare, DG Research Deputy Director-General Hugh Richardson appealed to both researchers and policy makers: 'It is crucial that researchers take into account the need to translate their findings into policy. Academics must come out of their ivory towers. For policy makers it is equally vital to listen to what researchers have to tell them. This is anything but easy, for they evolve within different mindsets. Research is a long term activity, whereas policy makers often need short term, practical solutions.'

For the workshop on migration and the social integration of migrants, Professor Stephen Castles, Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford examined the findings of 16 projects carried out under the Fourth and Fifth Framework Programmes.

Professor Castles said one of the main conclusions from the review is that policy making in the field of migration has been largely unsuccessful. Giving two examples of failed policies, he referred to Germany's policy, dating back to the 1950s, of not being a country of immigration. It now has one of the highest levels of immigration in the EU and the most cultural diversity. He also alluded to France's model of not creating ethnic communities. It now has ethnic and social segregation and active Muslim communities.

Of the future, Dr Mitsos writes: 'We aim at learning from this first phase of 'dialogues' to improve and expand this and other forms of exchange between research in social sciences and humanities and the cultural, economic, social and institutional world that they study and that, at the same time, shapes them.'

For further information on the workshops, please visit: nomic/mechanism.htm

For further information on the 'Citizens' priority under FP6, please visit:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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