Fighting social exclusion in rural areas
[ Summary ]
Taking action against social exclusion in
rural areas: what methods? what tools?
3.5 Consequences of targeted actions
In addition to their primary objective of improving the living
conditions of the target group, these actions help increase the
area’s social cohesion, and this on several levels.
- They recreate a social link between the victims of exclusion
and the area’s actors.
The choice of community development in the Valle di Non made
it possible to establish local links between the disabled and
certain external families. Until then, the disabled only had links
with their own families, and the tremendous pressure under which
these families lived created tensions that further marginalised the
disabled people. Sharing the burden with other substitute families
helped to improve the relationship within the real families.
In the Loire, the system of guidance and counselling created
a social link between the farmers on income support and the
economically successful farmers, something unimaginable in the
- More generally speaking, the actions create social
relationships of local solidarity within the area.
The time bank, like any form of local resource management
(eg. the local bartering system in Canada), generates links of
solidarity between people living in the same place who often do not
know one another.
In the Finnish case, it is between the elderly and the
children that links have been created.
- The actions make individuals as well as the local businesses
and institutions want to help the people in need living in the area
return to the mainstream of society.
In Central West Brittany, the action to retrain unemployed
people prompted the local craftsmen to become interested in the
vocational training of the unemployed and to move beyond a strictly
economic way of thinking.
In County Angus in Scotland, the creation of alternative
forms of transport broke down barriers, introducing practices until
then unthinkable. The postman, the milkman, and the door-to-door
salesman began to offer rides in their vehicles, the school buses
made room for adults, and so on.
- The actions help set up partnership structures likely to
serve in the fight against social exclusion in the long term.
The initiative in Angus helped create an association
consisting of representatives of voluntary organisations, municipal
councils, bus and taxi companies as well as groups concerned with
the problem of mass transport.
- More generally speaking, the actions introduce new approaches
and practices that are a break with traditional practices.
In Central West Brittany, the action to help the unemployed
return to work broke with the “bureaucratic logic of
compartimentalisation” in favour of a “project logic”, particularly
in the government agencies responsible for the fight against social
- The combination of these different impacts has a multiplier
effect that makes it possible to transfer the action and apply it
to other groups, activities or sectors.
The counselling and guidance experiment in the Loire with
farmers in need was extended to other social groups on income
support in other sectors.
The Brittany experience of the training enterprise to
renovate abandoned houses and the building heritage was extended to
“green work sites” involving environmental clean-up and
restoration. An identical project is also going to be launched in
southern France (Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon) by the initiator of
the Brittany action.
In Ireland, the RRI action has been taken on board by similar
associations, set up locally in rural areas, which enables more
concerted actions with the local people.
The action in Utajärvi Oulu in Finland has played a pilot
role, and its transfer to other regions in the country is now being
- Lastly, these actions can have significant economic benefits
for an area.
In Central West Brittany, the retraining enterprise has not
only helped long-term unemployed people return to work but has also
enabled the restoration of houses and the local heritage. In the
first three years of the project, 164 people in difficulty were
signed on, 30 small heritage restoration jobs were completed and 30
rental dwellings were created.