Synthesis available: NRP 76 identifies areas for improvement in Swiss social policy

© Marco Finsterwald

People in precarious situations are not always guaranteed a right to participation and self-determination. This is the finding of the Swiss National Science Foundation’s “Welfare and Coercion” National Research Programme (NRP 76).

Several hundred thousand people were affected by compulsory social measures and placements in the 20th century, and many were victims of mistreatment, abuse and economic exploitation. The social welfare system carries this legacy. Improvements have now been made in many areas. However, legitimate measures are still associated with coercion, depending on the situation, or are perceived as coercion by those affected. Sometimes their rights are disregarded. This was shown by the results of the NRP 76, involving around 150 researchers.

NRP 76 identifies weaknesses in social policy. “I hope that the authorities will tackle these problem areas together with those affected and the experts in order to consider equal opportunities and their institutional prerequisites, and to make improvements”, says Alexander Grob, President of the NRP 76 Steering Committee. “Our welfare system has learned a lot in recent years. Now it’s time to put this knowledge into practice.”

The researchers involved in NRP 76 identified causes of welfare practices that impaired the integrity of the persons affected and the conditions for those that protected their integrity and analysed the effects on the people involved. The results of NRP 76 have been published in three thematic book volumes and in the final synthesis “Interventions in people's lives” with ten main ideas. This marks the end of the work, summarises the findings of the research projects, sets specific priorities and draws impulses from them. It is a contribution of the scientific community to the political and professional debate.