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Aristos Campus Mundus addresses the issue of social fracture


Experts from Aristos Campus Mundus and Cáritas agree that the social fracture is a cross-cutting reality and is not improving in spite of signs of economic recovery. A structural change in the economic and social model was the idea they put forth at the conference on Social Fracture organised jointly by the Barcelona Diocese of Cáritas and Ramon Llull University (RLU) at the Blanquerna-RLU Faculty of Communication and International Relations.

Josep Maria Garrell, Rector of Ramon Llull University, delivered the opening address and highlighted that conferences like today’s are needed to make the university community aware of social problems, “not to find a definitive solution but with the intention of questioning issues that should be researched”.

Salvador Bacardit, the Barcelona Diocese Cáritas episcopal delegate, reminded the audience of Cáritas’s “Help us to help” campaign to stress that conferences such as this one help to delve into the causes of this social reality.

Have we come out of the crisis? Are we coming out of the crisis? “When people ask me this I say there’s no one word answer because reality is very complex indeed”, stated Francisco Lorenzo, coordinator of the Spanish Cáritas Study Team and the FOESSA Foundation. He gave a paper based on the research conducted for the 7th Report on exclusion and social development, recently published by the Foundation.

Lorenzo added that there is information which indicates growth which is creating jobs and reducing the rate of poverty although there are victims that we cannot overlook. “A triumphalist attitude regarding the crisis is not very ethical and only centred on selfish interests” claimed Lorenzo.

Two of every three people living in poverty were doing so prior to the crisis. According to Lorenzo, what is lost during a period of crisis is not recovered, and for this reason, economic growth must give back to excluded groups.

Lorenzo affirmed that the social fracture is growing. “Poverty is a more economic term that measures only a part of social exclusion. Poverty is multifaceted and does not only refer to creating jobs. Social deterioration extends to other scopes. There is exclusion from employment, from participation in politics, from education, housing, healthcare, social conflict and isolation.”

Lorenzo added that although our previous social, economic and cultural model’s macroindicators showed that measures were being taken before the crisis, this is incorrect. “It is better to live in barracks than in the street. A precarious job is better than not having one at all. But, is this the model that we want? asked Lorenzo.

There is a contradiction between the public sector’s desire to be responsible and guarantee the welfare state and the opposition’s refusal to accept any measures that raise or establish new taxes. We have certainly lived above our means, although the model itself gives priority to the individual rather than the common good.


Round table discussion with experts from various disciplines

Social fracture is understood as the distance that separates a certain socially integrated group of the population from another group formed by the excluded, originates and affects four large areas: the political, economic, sociological and technological.

This was the starting point of the round table discussion moderated by Andreu Ibarz, Director General of Blanquerna-RLU, and in which experts from RLU and Cáritas took part.

Óscar Mateos, lecturer and Vice Dean of International Relations and Research at the Pere Tarrés-RLU Faculty of Social Education and Social Work, addressed the contextual factors (global and local in a historical perspective) that help to explain today’s social fracture and contended that, ultimately, this means breaking the social contract that has existed during recent decades in Europe. Mateos believes that mobilisation or awareness is taking place but warned that another crisis is being ignored, the environmental one: “Our lifestyle cannot be applied universally”, he stated.

Àngel Castiñeira, lecturer at ESADE-RLU, relates the social fracture with changes in the world of work and the emergence of a new social class called “the precariat”. Castiñeira pointed out that the social fracture is a much more cross-cutting concept which creates malaise. “The social fracture does not refer to unqualified people, but it is an issue among the middle classes that cannot stop soldiering along”.

Albert Florensa, lecturer at IQS-RLU, delved into the subject of inequality and its destructive effects on society, following the thesis by Branko Milanovic and Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.

“I will not provide any information. And at Cáritas, we have it.  Today, I want to talk about fractured lives”. This was how Mercè Darnell began her talk. She is head of the Barcelona Cáritas Diocese Programmes and Services Department. Darnell centred on people and the fact that these lives are fractured because of fractured solutions that merely involve patching things up. According to Darnell, the phenomenon of poverty and exclusion is structured into biased situations such as child, energy, housing, food poverty… although they all occur together.

Jordi Riera, Vice Rector of Academic Policy at RLU, centred his talk on the research being conducted by the Pedagogy, Society and Innovation Research Group, with the support of PSITIC (Social Pedagogy and ICTs) at Blanquerna-RLU. The Principal Investigator of this group reminded the audience that there is 15% relative poverty and 25% child poverty. In other words, 1 out of 4 children have been in this situation for years. “This chronic poverty that continues even during time of economic bonanza is not acceptable. We have to work together to address the emerging reality more efficiently. Riera is in favour of a relational state to rethink the social contract. 

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