This publication contains the final report of the project ‘Social innovation, governance and community building’, whose work has primarily contributed to the area ‘Towards social cohesion in Europe’.
The report brings the attention onto the re-emergence of old basic needs. 19th century social movements had developed in times of social exploitation and were related to improve access to basic material needs. Post-WWII social movements occurred in times of growing prosperity and aimed at acquiring greater social rights. The establishment of the neo-liberal paradigm in the 1980s somewhat reshuffles things: what was given for granted twenty years ago, maybe the object of renewed social struggle. A new material hardship is re-appearing, related to: a) the re-polarisation of income distribution, after thirty years of relative convergence, i.e. the re-emergence of poverty even among old residents; b) the more or less evident reduction in welfare state coverage; c) the new wave of often illegal immigration, which has especially involved formerly immune Southern European member states. A growing share of the national populations is now socially excluded, not just particular groups in particular areas.