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Nicole Questiaux

For a political approach to the social field

French governments are both too preoccupied by social policy and not sufficiently so. That they are overly preoccupied shows in the way finances devolved to social transfer policies take up the largest part of obligatory contributions. That they are insufficiently so, is clear from the weakness of social administration within state apparatus. Social policies can only exist if there is an analysis of the evolution of society. This is all the more important when this evolution is constantly attributed to economic factors. Another condition is the existence of a central state with the power and the will to intervene. This intervention must draw upon a feeling of solidarity among the people so that obligations can be linked to rights. This means that legitimate demands should be listened to, analyzed and subjected to debate. It means that the state feels legitimate to intervene and to regulate. It means that compulsory contributions to social solidarity should be backed up by favorable public opinion and those rights thus obtained need to be defended and consolidated. The political approach to social policy is not a form of enlightened despotism. It is a major issue in the proper functioning of democracy.


Thierry Paquot

What does « territory » mean?

The author explores the whole field of defining the word « territory » as used by historians, geographers, anthropologists, urban sociologists and specialists in law. The article then asks the question: is there a “territory” in the social field?


Claude Jacquier

What is a community? How can this concept be useful today?

In the current period of individualism, and even of ideological regression, it is important continue debate about the concept of community and the expressions to which this concept gives rise (community organization, community development). This is especially the case in France, where the use of these expressions is surprisingly censored, particularly in the political field, despite the fact that the origins of the word can be found in the field of politics, since the French word “commune” signifies local democracy in towns. At a time when public policy is at a standstill, and while societies look for new models to give it a new start, faced with many changes underway, the concepts related to community might provide tools for revising some of our ways of thinking and doing.

Keywords : Commune, community, communitarism, cooperation, co production, democracy, sustainable development, organization, organizer, recycling, rural urban regions, territory, transition


Pierre Gauthier

The end of an administration: the DDASS (Departmental direction of social and health affairs)

The DDASS have given way to new administrative agencies: to the “Regional agency for health” for the main part of its functions and to the “Departmental direction of social cohesion” (in large counties) or to the “Departmental direction of social cohesion and protection of persons” (in small counties). This article analyses the reasons for these changes and the new role of the state. Can the state still guarantee equality between citizens? Are there plans to pursue decentralization and to implement all its logical conclusions? And can we continue to have a full debate about social action in decentralization?


Pierre Gauthier

Territories in health and in solidarity

This country has a long standing problem with its territorial organization. Although it is an integrated part of republican institutions, more radical measures are needed than the weak reforms recently carried through. They need to be simplified and adapted to radical changes in social realities. This is true both at an administrative and at the level of political projects. Everyone agrees that policies should take more account of territories, but centralization is nevertheless still a dominant feature of the system. The author discusses the technocratic forces that have been omnipresent in the health system and how people have adapted to them.


Jacques Ladsous, Jacques Salvator

Townships as territories

The town is a primordial level of territorial action. The Mayor needs to have a conception of his town that is closely related to the needs and implantation of residents.


Martine Trapon

Social centers: a place for citizenship

Historically, social centers were created through a meeting of minds between the workers education movement and the family allowance administration. Their genius has been to preserve this identity and their originality since the beginning of the twentieth century. Social centers are an interface for the expression of social needs and a place where local and national policies can be carried out. As such they are a good base for learning and exercising citizenship. This is because they are organized on a democratic basis. All actions carried out in a social center are the result of a collective decision making process. They offer an interesting viewpoint on the complexity of the terms of social debate today.


Rina Dupriet

Municipal social action centres

Rina Dupriet, honorary president of the national association of municipal social action centers shows how they are a progressive development from the offices of wellbeing which preceded them. It is a useful and even essential structure despite being often contested.


Jo Spiegel

The house of citizenship: for a fraternal form of democracy

Jo Spiegel, Mayor of Kingersheim, explains what the house of citizenship is about: a place that sets high standards designed to inform, listen, coordinate and to engage residents in an elaborative process of democracy.


Anne Petiau

Internet and new forms of social relations

Internet and new technologies of communication are today an integral part of cultural practices and daily sociability of young people. But other more contemporary issues than these well known aspects are also played out on line.

Today, blogs and social networks reveal modes of construction of identity that involve the “theatralisation” of self and the exteriorization of intimate feelings. While these uses are common to practically all young people, there are some uses that are more exclusive. Thus inequalities in this field are more obvious in the use of technologies than in access to them. In social work, experiments have been made that draw upon these tools so widely appropriated by the young, and that mobilize their potential for expression and creating relations.


Joël Roman

Secularism (laïcité) as a way of sharing a common world

The author gives his point of view in the current debate about secularism. He denounces several confusions and reaffirms the legal principle lying under the 1905 law on the separation of religion and the stage. This law also guarantees the principle of religious freedom linked to the fundamental principle of individual liberty. Current claims to conform the religious rules do not represent a form of retreat into communities, but are rather a claim to have equal access to a common world. Pluralism of personal identities should be recognized as legitimate since basically the law on secularism is a law about pluralism. While it affirms the neutrality of the stage, it does so in order to protect the diversity of civil society and to encourage it.


Diana Garcia, Christophe Jibard, Séverine Lhez

How are communities valued: studies and analyses

Community work is better known in South America and in Anglo-Saxon countries. It is based on groups of service users and collectivities and takes the realities of community life into account in terms of territorial implantation, ethnicity, cultural ties and religion. Can community work promote initiatives? Can it be a useful complement to individual social work? Is it a way of promoting solidarity, reducing isolation and promoting self reliance in terms of access to housing and work?

Fourteen local experiences were studied in an attempt to answer these questions. The obstacles and resources inherent in these approaches have been partly analyzed and explained in a report by the Superior Council for Social Work published in 2010.


José Dhers, Jacques Ladsous, Jean-Claude Sommaire

How to make a society in a different way : reflexions, resistance, propositions

The events of autumn 2005 (riots in urban areas) had a strong effect upon social workers. We need to reflect upon why they were not able to predict and prevent them. This article takes up Paolo Friere's concept of community action and presents the results of two congresses (held in 2008 at the Cedias and in Aubervilliers in 2011) that presented a renewed community work approach to these questions.

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