Strategic Workshop 'Social Quality In Europe'

Vienna (Austria), 19-21 February 2014

Organised under the umbrella of the ESF Exploratory Workshops Scheme

Keywords: Social quality; quality of life; well-being; Europe; European Social Survey


Social Quality has been developed as a paradigm for understanding the quality of society and the wellbeing of individuals within it and is increasingly used by policy makers. It is an instrument for understanding the progress of society and emerges from current concerns with the quality of life, yet there is no survey explicitly designed for this purpose. 

The purpose of the workshop would be to design a module for the European Social Survey that could be used to research Social Quality across Europe.


The outcomes of the workshop could be summarised as a fruitful discussion of the relationship between social quality and quality of life approaches, a discussion of ways in which social quality could be measured and of ways in which this could contribute to social policy discussions in places as far apart as China, Rwanda, the Netherlands and Scotland. The next steps are as follows:

  • Studies of Social Quality would be carried out in the following cities: Hangzhou China, the Hague Netherlands, Rome Italy. A pilot study in the city of Laak in the Hague has already begun as a result of local funding and would be continued with comparisons elsewhere in terms of urban planning.
  • A Social Quality framework for the Scottish Government would be explored in terms of local statistics. The Scottish Government are keen to measure life quality in Scottish communities as part of its National Performance Framework and is considering statistical indicators that could feed into this.
  • A Good Society Index would be produced to be launched in September 2014 in Glasgow, where a follow up meeting will be held. The index was discussed at the meeting and indicators would be sought out that could enable cross-national comparisons.
  • An application to the EC under the Horizon 2020 programme would be submitted to support social research in Ukraine, which has been severely undermined by uneven progress in scientific research and political uncertainty. The political disruptions taking place there whilst the workshop was being held suggested the need to for dispassionate social research to understand and interpret the situation.

There were also plans to publish papers in the International Journal of Social Quality edited by Ka Lin and the open access Journal for Social Reseach and Policy edited by Sergiu Baltescu.

For full details on the event (final programme, full summary, list of participants, etc.) please refer to the Scientific Report.