Structural discrimination as the obstacle in achieving the goal of life in dignity for all

Project type: Ciljni raziskovalni program 2019

Code: V5-1921

Beginning: 01.11.2019

End: 31.10.2021

Funding: Slovene research agency


Advocate of the Principle of Equality

Collaborating organisations:

UL, Faculty of Law

Coordinator: UL, Faculty of Social Work

Leader: izr. prof. dr. Mojca Urek


prof. dr. Darja Zaviršek

doc. dr. Irena Šumi

dr. Katja Kolšek

izr. prof. dr. Vasilka Sancin

doc. dr. Maša Kovič Dine

as. Domen Turšič

as. Tekavčič Veber Maruša

Tanja Buda, mag. soc. del. (mlada raziskovalka)

mag. Mirjam ten Veen (T)




In Slovenia, we do not have a holistic picture of structural discrimination; therefore it is difficult to identify all the shortcomings of the normative body and practice of ensuring dignified life for all. The purpose of the project is to fill this gap by employing an interdisciplinary approach that combines the findings of sociology, social work and social policies, as well as legal science. The interdisciplinary research brings together a team of researchers from the Faculty of Social Work and the Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana to achieve three main goals:

1. To complete, by means of an analysis of the present situation, the picture on the numbers, exposure, existent classifications and trends in vulnerable individuals and groups in Slovenia;

2. To carry out a detailed examination of the Slovenian, European and international legislation, measures and practices in order to identify the grey areas that are the cause of discrepancies between the actual state of affairs, and the alleviation and regulation measures along the line from solidarity activities, social care practice, and legislative and other regulative norms.

3. To prepare professional, comprehensive and effective guidelines for awareness-raising

campaigns; to engage the potential allies in such campaigning (centres of social work, public health institutions, care centres and institutions, the civil society…), thus preparing the groundwork for a renewed and augmented basic understanding of vulnerabilities that occur as a consequence of structural discrimination.

Different sources define the vulnerable groups differently, depending especially on the

intersectionality of the people’s personal statuses, and the sociocultural circumstances. This project will adhere to the definition of vulnerable persons as those who find themselves in scarcity of economic, social and cultural resources, and whose depravity is not readily visible; sometimes, it is quite covert and difficult to spot. Due to the economic, social and cultural roles they occupy, members of vulnerable groups continues to undergo new depravities. We shall acknowledge that “vulnerability” is often individualised and pathologized as a permanent label for a person whereby the generative social factors of their predicament are ignored. We shall also take into account that Slovenia, due to its specific post-socialist history after the year 1990, underwent a specific development of the problems of personal and social vulnerabilities. Thus for instance, circumstances inherited from the socialist time include a fairly large share of population that was in possession of real estate; a large share of young pensioners; low fertility and therefore a large share of old and aging population; a high ethnic homogeneity, etc. The typical problems of social exclusion, vulnerability and discrimination that are undergoing an accelerated globalisation are therefore new in Slovenia: notably, the precarisation of work, the emergence of the so-called working poor, the growing income and property inequalities, and an increasing gender pay gap. Authors in Slovenia, taking this history into account, predominantly systemise the problem of vulnerability as economic, social and


International and European law also impose on Slovenia the duty to prevent structural

discrimination. Adopting the necessary measures that define the circumstances in which

vulnerable groups appear and live can be systemized into three intersectional groups:

a. Economic and old-age protection and protection of the handicapped

b. Socio-cultural, educational and protective measures regarding the ethnically marked groups

c. Measures addressing the problems of gender, family and public health.

The sociological analysis will be carried out by analysing the existent problems of vulnerability, augmented by the holistic documented evidence about the scope, and structure of vulnerability in Slovenia. It will then proceed to test the results in several consecutive events with the professional and other public. The legal analysis will employ a critically analytical comparison between the Slovenian legislation, and that of other EU Member States. Identifying the good practices and the challenges identified, we will proceed to compile guidelines for further normative solutions and the institutional monitoring of the implemented measures to prevent structural discrimination, always in

accord with basic human rights, including the right to life in dignity.

The project group will thus, in accord with the goals of the project call, carry out a pioneer work that will result in holistic groundwork for adopting the pertinent legislation and measures to address the problem of structural discrimination in Slovenia; a work that is the condition sine qua non in order to assure life in dignity for all.


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