9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN26 Sociology of Social Policy

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Comparing European Welfare Regimes Building II, Auditório C1.04

Needs in Portugal - Tradition and Emerging Trends. A discussion for the XXIst century

Reflecting on the impacts of contemporary changes in Portuguese society - recognizing both the improvement in human development, as well as the persistent and the new borderlines that challenge traditional development models and shape risk, poverty and social exclusion phenomena - this communication aims to present the results of a Study about non satisfied and unmet needs in nowadays' Portugal.

Anticipating the eventual negative effects of perceptions of unsatisfying needs over quality of life, trust and social cohesion, these results pay particular attention to the latent and emergent trends that, currently and at a near future, disturb and impair the optimization of opportunities in individual and collective life.

By confronting a game in which aspirations and expectations play a simultaneous role of mediators and drivers in a relationship established between Capabilities and Opportunities, the theoretical frame underlying the investigation attempts to go beyond traditional dichotomies.
Needs are operationally considered as generative and dynamic processes, found at a conciliation of two analytically and practically different dimensions: a subjective one - related to a set of multidimensional perceptions of absence or lack of something wanted; and a socially objectified dimension, associated to a set of physical, psychic or social harms, these latter, socially and/or individually identified and recognized as practical manifestations of states of absence (or neediness).

By relation to an analysis of objective constraints and claims about well-being and quality of life, the eventual transformations in the needs' patterns manifested among the diversity of individuals and territories were extensively and intensively explored throughout: a collection and analyses of statistical information from a selected set of secondary sources; an application of a questionnaire about perceptions of neediness and harms, representative of the opinions of residents in continental Portugal; and the exploratory study of cases, selected by their potential enlightening of actually latent and dormant needs and future severe social problems.

This last approach to the field, allowed illustrating and clarifying the factors that shape the complex relationship (and the eventual dysfunctions) between planning and provision mechanisms to Need, and its complete satisfaction by the individuals and the subject groups of social policy.