The celebration of 10 years of study and analysis of the multifaceted social inequalities in Portuguese society was marked by a commemorative colloquium that presented the book "Social Inequalities. Portugal and Europe'. Renato Miguel do Carmo, director of the Observatory of Inequalities (OI) and researcher at CIES-IUL, helps us to understand the impacts and needs of an exhaustive and regular study of these phenomena and ways to fight inequality.
What is the most significant moment that you would like to recall from these 10 years of OI activity?
Renato Miguel do Carmo | We had several significant moments. But I would like to highlight the presentation session of our first book entitled "Social Inequalities 2010: Studies and Indicators". The book was presented by the former President of the Republic Dr. Jorge Sampaio and Prof. Doctor Diogo Freitas do Amaral. It was a very relevant session that contributed decisively to the scientific and public impact of both the book and the Observatory itself.
For those who doesn’t know the path already opened in these 10 years of study, how would you describe the OI’s contribution to the fight against social inequalities in our country?
R. M. C. | Basically, our main objective is to contribute to the study of social inequalities in a more detailed and multidimensional way, both in the scientific community and in relations with the general public. That is why we have developed a platform for the dissemination of information (consisting of news, analysis, studies, articles, books, etc.) that seeks to reach the greatest diversity of people and institutions.
The book released on March 7th addresses the numerous areas that directly or indirectly affect inequalities and explain, potentiate or constrain them. Which is currently considered the most pressing area(s) for political action?
R. M. C. | As we have pointed out, inequalities are a complex and multidimensional phenomenon that does not have a simple and unambiguous explanation, in the sense that the causes are not limited to a sector or social system or to a limited number of resources. Hence policies must have a transversal and multisectoral logic. Only in this way can they be effective in reducing inequalities. As an example, one of the ways to combat inequalities is necessarily to increase education and training policies that democratize and further generalize the levels of education of the Portuguese population. Lifelong learning is a structural necessity, especially in a country where the employed population has still very low levels of schooling.
In your perspective, as director of the OI, what is the greatest tool to promote equality?
R. M. C. | In addition to schooling, the role of redistributive policies (in their various components), on the one hand, and labour regulation and collective contracting policies, on the other, are fundamental instruments.