Social Protection

Rethinking the Social Issue

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driss guerraoui
Professor at the Mohammed V University of Rabat-Morocco
President of the MENA region, ICSW

In national contexts marked by the worsening of social inequalities and the deterioration of purchasing power, everywhere in the world, citizens' voices are rising to demand the exploration of new approaches to rethink the social question. As paradoxical as it may seem, this dynamic is evolving outside and on the margins of the traditional institutional and constitutional relays that are the regulatory and mediation bodies, and intermediate bodies composed mainly of trade union organizations and political parties. It takes place, also in the context of difficulties encountered by States in influencing public policies in the direction of a more equitable distribution of wealth which, for its part, continues to grow for the benefit, mainly, of the wealthy classes, thus creating feelings of injustice and frustration.

This, explicitly or implicitly, questions the social structure at a time of globalization in crisis and of deep socio-union and socio-institutional transformations, carried by a surge of emergence and development of a new generation of citizens more aware of their rights and powers, more and more demanding in terms of dignity, justice and freedom and more and more permeable either to self-organization or to instrumentalization. It is important to note at this level that behind this citizen power looms a new and great political actor made up of “facebookers”, bloggers, hackers, who have formed digital social networks, endowed with formidable mobilization and destabilization capacities. Products of the democratic process and the extension of freedoms, this "party of citizens" can either be a vector of citizen engagement and change, or undermine the foundations of democracy if it is not supervised, regulated and supported by the institutions and bodies which are supposed to be the real intermediaries and intermediary bodies between the State and the citizens.

In addition, this dynamic, the impact of which must not be overestimated or underestimated, will certainly intensify, expand and take increasingly diverse forms in the future. And if the causes are not treated, it could exacerbate the tensions between society and the State, stimulate hate behaviour between the different classes of society, and thus foster a climate of insecurity and instability that can lead to anarchy.

By appealing to the State, the trade union movement, political parties, constitutional regulatory bodies and civil society associations, this social state is launching a real challenge for all of these actors in terms of positioning in relation to this new social order. and correlatively with regard to their future roles and respective contributions to the search for possible solutions to the social injustice felt and experienced by the populations concerned and, ultimately, in taking charge of their needs, expectations and aspirations.

This challenge has become complex to take up for two essential reasons. First, because of the continuing fall in the rate of unionization, the weak membership of political parties and the mistrust in institutions and elites, the corollary of which is the crisis in the representativeness of union organizations and that of the authorities elected in the current social fields. Then, due to the emergence of new actors, favoured by the increase in the power of citizens, a power carried by an engineering of collaborative networking that isolated individuals manage to develop and amplify by the enormous possibilities that the digital revolution offers them. . These are, in particular various social networks, individuals digitally united around boycott campaigns, protest and indignation movements, spontaneous and / or organized, autonomous, independent or instrumentalized by political, hidden or declared, in search of political legitimacy drawn from the streets, and whose forms of expression are becoming more and more atypical depending on the country. These new social actors leave no one indifferent, inciting all the actors concerned to reflect on the most appropriate methods to extend and support social dialogue through a civil dialogue.

While making this dialogue necessary, this reality prompts us to rethink its practices and radically change its mechanisms and institutions. This quest is to make dialogue more effective for businesses, more equitable for employees, fairer for citizens and institutionally more sustainable for the State and society. This option is an essential institutional condition for restoring confidence, stabilizing industrial relations, and creating a business environment that promotes economic attractiveness and the competitiveness of businesses, guaranteeing social peace and strengthening national cohesion.

In this perspective, governments, trade union organizations, political parties, constitutional regulatory bodies, human rights organizations and consumer protection associations will have to take up four major challenges, of a new kind, each in areas that fall within its purview.

The first managerial challenge is mainly the responsibility of the state. It relates to the governance of public policies. While putting the citizen at the heart of its concerns, this governance must be more responsible and sustainable at the central and territorial level. To do this, it is called upon to strengthen, as strictly as possible, the procedures for monitoring, reporting and ensuring the sustainability of projects carried out through a permanent maintenance strategy. The objective is, on the one hand, to ensure the effectiveness of public policies and, on the other, to accelerate the pace of implementation of programs and their sustainability. This dimension is central to the governance of social policies, because, in this context, everything is urgent, the big issue is time.

The second challenge is political. It requires from all stakeholders a new culture of institutions supported by a systemic approach to economic and social issues and an engineering of concertation, negotiation and mediation based on the principle of "sharing of efforts" with a view to achieve common objectives requiring shared sacrifices and reciprocal concessions.

These common objectives, collectively assumed, consist, in times of deep social crisis, in reconciling the competitiveness of businesses, the preservation of jobs, the purchasing power of citizens and the pursuit of the generalization of access by poor populations to social protection.

However, to succeed in this challenge, the State, the regions, professional associations, trade union organizations, political parties, civil society actors, families, the media, schools, universities and intellectuals must be the key players in the spread of this new political culture. Because they all have, each in their place of life and work, a responsibility to take in the advances of this true political revolution, on which will depend tomorrow the mode of management of the conflicts and crises in the societies of the XXI century. Raising awareness, informing, training and organizing around this culture must be established as a new ambition and priority for nations.

The third challenge is security. It concerns at the same time the State, the territories, the companies, and the other intermediate bodies. These are all called to radically change their means and ways of governing society and of making politics. Indeed, all these actors must imperatively use intelligence, genius and permanent monitoring to independently develop appropriate methods of securing their IT infrastructures and promoting digital technologies of mass communication and dedicated collaborative networking. to their actions in the areas that fall within their respective missions and skills. The objective of this approach is not only to protect against cyberattacks, but also and above all to get into the digital age to be able to win the necessary battle for the renewal of democracy and that also of the conciliation between the freedom and responsibility of citizens. The last elections in the United States, Great Britain and France, as well as the events in Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan, show the stakes of this challenge in terms of sovereignty and endogenous national mastery of change.

 The fourth challenge, finally, is of a strategic nature. It consists in constructing institutional buildings allowing to promote and to take root in the community the practices of participative democracy at all levels of governance of the economy and society. This choice should result in the strengthening of the role of mediation, concertation, dialogue and regulation bodies, at central and territorial level. Because, they encourage mutual listening, citizen debate, responsible and serene and the participation of all actors and driving forces of society in the design and development of public policies. This is the approach that would ultimately guarantee ownership, buy-in and, as a consequence, the commitment and effective involvement of the populations concerned in the implementation of public policies.

By helping to build real checks and balances from organized civil society, these bodies would play a crucial role in the regulation of administrative deviances and various dysfunctions, such as rent behaviour, negative impact of concentrations, collusion between power and business, unfair competition, human rights, corruption and injustices of all kinds. It is equally so in the democratic governance of citizen movements of protest and revolt in favour of the culture of dialogue, participation and civic engagement. It is at this level that the necessary peaceful management of the new social question is to be found, of which digital social networks represent an emerging player, with which the States and societies of the 21st century must count in the context of the renewal of the democracy.