The EQUALITY ResearchCollective aims to to counter the social exclusion of human beings in vulnerable living situations and to improve their quality of life and the guarantee of human rights.
In addition to the reference frameworks mentioned above, participatory research methods and knowledge by experience are central to the vision of the collective.
The following lines of research are central in our collective:
In the EQUALITY ResearchCollective, quality of life and human rights are the central building blocks for the research we conduct. This is in line with the aim of establishing basic facilities in society for people in vulnerable living situations from an emancipatory support perspective, in which each person is entitled to control their own life, has the right to support to achieve meaningful action and takes a full place in society. This line of research focuses on conceptual research concerning both reference frameworks and the way they can be implemented in practice.
This line of research focuses on the access to basic necessities to approach the challenge of under-protection. One may find oneself in a situation of under-protection if not all basic human rights have been achieved.
Under-protection is often higher in specific groups of people in a vulnerable living situations: people in poverty, single parents, households with a migratory background or people with a disability. An accumulation of these factors tends to increase the degree of under-protection.
Causes of under-protection include a lack of information, barriers caused by bureaucratization and a lack of cooperation among services providing basic necessities, or by vague or complex regulations.
As a result of under-protection, people are unable to use basic necessities to which they are entitled and so these people become socially excluded.
Answers to the problem of under-protection include outreaching basic necessities, automatic entitlement adjudication, personalized support in the use of basic necessities, etc.
This line of research focuses on diversity with specific attention to power relations and the societal imagery and appreciation associated with some diversity characteristics. Society is characterized by an increasing diversity on different dimensions of being human. During the past decades, relatively new dimensions became increasingly important - such as gender, positions of residence, culture, religion, sexual orientation, etc. But even within those dimensions, diversity is increasing. The combination of diversity axes with which individuals or groups identify themselves or are identified, affects their social position and determines where they can be found on the spectrum between positions of privilege or positions discriminated against in society. As they get identified with discriminated positions, the likelihood of social exclusion, experiencing mechanisms of oppression, limited resources, reduced access to basic necessities, etc. also increases.
This requires a critical analysis of how social exclusion, in the context of diversity, comes into play at all levels of society. To date, a diversity policy in many organizations is developed through the establishment of processes of interculturalisation, focusing on specific and homogeneously defined target groups, resulting in compartmentalization and categorization. However, due to the increasing diversity, this will need to be expanded and/or transformed into more generic strategies and innovative processes aimed at a diverse population, that strive to achieve social cohesion and equal and full participation for anyone.
This line of research focuses on integral work. Central to this line of research, is interprofessional collaboration, together with the community, neighbourhoods, informal networks and people in vulnerable living situations to deploy this broad care policy.
A central challenge is compartmentalization and categorically organized basic necessities. Basic necessities are usually organized according to target groups or problems. Connections between actors such as education, welfare, health care, and the broader community are often lacking.
Education has an increasingly broader care policy with a corresponding growth of the actors involved in the school, such as the care teacher, the employees at the Student Guidance Center or the SES teachers, but also with actors outside of the school walls such as go-betweens, school gatekeepers, PSWC employees or community school actors. Collaboration between all these different entities is more likely to be ad hoc and based on short-term networks.
This way of working does not address the complexity of support needs and the day-to-day realities people in vulnerable living situations find themselves in. It causes people to slip between the cracks, which, in the long run, results in even more complex care needs and a higher intensity of aid and services.
This line of research focuses on community-based care and support. Within the current care and support services there is an increasing focus on socialization (of care) in the support of people in vulnerable living situations. It concerns support in and by society, where volunteers and informal carers are seen as the backbone of care with a strong focus on (warm) solidarity towards citizens in vulnerable living situations.
Commitment to socialization entails an increasing risk of social exclusion because people in vulnerable living situations often lack a support network, which often leaves them alone with their complex support needs. Furthermore, the role of a government is becoming more and more diffuse. Such evolutions simultaneously provoke discussions about the desired position, competences, and work organization of the social professional, who is committed to the connection between professional/formal care, the citizen, and informal networks.
Through this line of research we want to help shape an ethical implementation of socialisation of care, in which people in vulnerable living situations are seen as active actors in this process and their knowledge of experience plays a central role.
This line of research focuses on the theme of high quality care and services, starting from the environment and the perception of people in vulnerable living situations. More and more, the daily practice is faced with a demand for quality of the services delivered" with a strong focus on effectiveness and efficiency. Enhancing the quality and making the quality offered transparent represent one of the priorities in the recent policy notes of the policy domains of Welfare, Public Health and Family, and Education and Training. With the reorganization of the Flemish welfare and care policy, the emphasis is placed on more efficient management, the measurement and publication of quality, a more efficient use of resources, and a more effective execution of assignments.
Within this line of research we focus on a key question related to this “quality mindset”, in particular on the way this discourse takes shape. The layering and complexity of daily practice implies that we cannot reduce quality to a purely technical/goal-oriented perspective. However, working on the quality of people-centered professions is also about connecting with the relational and human aspects of professional work and the question of what practice should be for.
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Meet our experts.
The EQUALITY ResearchCollective consists of experts within the domains of orthopedagogics (special education), social work, occupational therapy, education, philosophy, law, languages, design and graphic design.