The INVOLVE project

The INVOLVE project investigates the impact of social inequalities on democratic participation in Europe. Based on the hypothesis that the quality of social services and the experiences that vulnerable people have with them contribute to their trust or mistrust in social and political institutions in general, it examines four areas of public intervention: work, health, education and housing. In each of these areas, the institutional arrangements, the nature of the services provided, the conditions of access and of involvement of users are compared with the actual functioning of social services and the experiences of the most vulnerable people with them. The analysis focuses on the impact of these experiences on their capability, or incapacity, to aspire to a better future, and on their trust or mistrust in political institutions. To this end, we mobilise conceptual tools such as Arjun Appadurai’s capacity to aspire and Amartya Sen’s and Martha Nussbaum’s capability approach. Developed in eight European countries, the project brings together non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academic research teams, while combining quantitative and qualitative research methods. In France, the Georg Simmel Centre (UMR 8131) is collaborating with the NGO GRDR to study the experiences of migrant populations in relation to public social services in the areas of work and health. We use different qualitative methods (biographical interviews, focus groups, participatory action research) to contribute to a better understanding of the role of welfare state services in the functioning of democracy, but also to identify the conditions for more inclusive public services.