The Local Governance of Social Cohesion in Europe: International Comparison

Vanesa Fuertes, Ronald McQuaid

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Local Worlds of Social Cohesion - The Local Dimension of Integrated Social and Employment Policy, LOCALISE for short, is a Seventh Framework collaborative research project funded by
the European Commission ( for details).

The focus of LOCALISE’s research is on the organisational challenges of integrating social and employment policy, in response partly to the radical changes in the local governance of
social cohesion across many Member States of the European Union. The multiple needs of the most vulnerable groups in society require the integration of formerly separate policy
fields, such as employment, housing, childcare, transport and social services. This creates potentially positive dynamics for reducing social inequalities, fostering social cohesion and
enhancing labour market participation – the crucial objectives of the EU2020 strategy. Local labour market activation policies are framed mainly by Member States’ policies and patterns
of regional inequality. However, the shift of competences to the local level, the involvement of new actors and a closer collaboration of different agencies create new demands on interorganisational coordination. How do different institutional contexts influence local worlds of social cohesion? How do local actors deal with the conflicts and dilemmas caused by
integrated social cohesion policies? What impact do these policies have on social inequality and the conception of social citizenship?

LOCALISE addresses these questions by integrating multiple disciplines, and partners experienced in European and Social Policy research. A common theoretical and methodological approach guides the research in each work package. LOCALISE created a critical mass of research in three key areas: the analysis of how European programmes, national governance patterns and the regional socio-economic contexts affect the local governance of social cohesion. Secondly, LOCALISE studied how 18 local entities (named localities henceforth) in six European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and United Kingdom) coped with the challenges of integrating social cohesion policy. Finally, it analysed the impact of these policies on social inequalities, citizenship and the most vulnerable social groups.

This International Comparative Report is the final deliverable of LOCALISE work package 4 (Deliverable 4.7 – date M26). Work package 4 is one of the seven work packages within the
three-year long project (July 2011 – July 2014). Work package 4 aims at comprehensive empirical research of the organisational challenges to the local governance of social cohesion: it analysed and compared local approaches, interpretations and innovative
practices of organizing services for active social cohesion policy. This report is based on the six National Reports on ‘the local governance of social cohesion’ produced by each partner and which were submitted to the Commission at the end of April 2013 (M23) as Deliverables 4.1-4.6. National Reports were a comparison of the three national case studies. Partners
wrote an individual paper for each case study.

This report is divided in two chapters. Chapter 1: introduces the theoretical underpinnings of work package 4; briefly explores the literature on the governance of integrated social cohesion; describes the political, institutional, socio-economic and activation contexts of the six countries participating on the LOCALISE project; and ends by detailing the methodologies
used. Chapter 2 compares six country analyses in terms of multi-level, multi-dimensional and multi-stakeholder integration, during policy development and implementation. It draws
conclusions on this international comparison in terms of the implications for theory and for practice.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh Napier University
Number of pages116
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


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