THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES
Plenary Session 28 April-2 May 2017 – Since the beginning of his Pontificate, Pope Francis has asked our Academy to give more attention to the poor, the marginalized, the sick, the suffering, and to make a renewed commitment to fight all forms of social marginalization and exclusion. This Plenary will respond to his call by seeking to deepen our understanding and explanation of the reasons for social exclusion and, above all, to suggest practicable steps for promoting a thorough-going social and cultural integration, which we have termed the ‘participatory society’. Unlike other meetings that are focused on particular problems, this Plenary will address the topic from the broadest vantage point, emphasizing new ways to promote the full participation of people in society, meaning participation in all spheres of civil and political society.
The aim is not only to make the current structure of societies more participatory, but also to outline the characteristics of a participatory society capable of promoting the dignity of the human person in a context oriented to the common good and based on the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity. One aspect has to do with dissatisfaction with existing ideas for progressive social transformation that are incapable of avoiding recurring processes of exclusion and marginalization of entire populations, generations and social groups on a world scale. The other aspect is the need to develop a genuine concept of participation in social life and highlight the best practices that can lead the society toward a good life for all in the different realms: in the economy, in the political institutions, in the cultural dynamics that are now heavily influenced by the spread of information and communication technologies.
Through such research, we do not pretend to be elaborating a new empirical model of participatory society. Instead, our aim is rather to highlight the structural elements that would enable any given social system to develop into a more participatory .....