Special Issue "Research Contributions to the Social Development of Under-Served Communities"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Health and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Ramon Flecha
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Sociology, University of Barcelona, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: masculinities; gender violence; social impact; health; social theory
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Different regions around the world face serious and enduring problems, ranging from natural disasters triggered by climate change to armed conflicts, famines, or economic hardship that force people to leave their countries in search for security and a better life. All of us are exposed to these problems, but under-served communities are the most vulnerable, poorly-equipped to successfully navigate these socio-economic, political, or environmental hazards. A required dimension of global social development is the advancement towards the development of these under-privileged communities. Advancing sustainably in this direction requires promoting that these citizens are both individually and collectively protagonists of their own lives. To do this, vulnerable communities not only need scientific evidence that enables this in an efficient way, but also need to have a voice in the creation of such knowledge. International research programs like Horizon Europe (European Framework for Research and Innovation) already include the co-creation of scientific knowledge by researchers and citizens as a priority. Framed in this context, this Special Issue will particularly pay attention to the analysis of the current evolution of the above-mentioned global societal challenges, discussed in the light of transformative approaches. In this sense, besides expecting analytically robust descriptions of these situations, evidence about those actions and strategies that are taking place on the ground and contributing to overcoming them by movements, organizations, governments, companies, or other types of institutions are especially welcomed.

Some of the topics to be considered are the following:

  • New racism emerging in the context of COVID-19.
  • Refugees and displacement in the Middle East region, challenges and opportunities for social inclusion encountered in host societies, and the case of unaccompanied refugee minors.
  • Social and cultural dynamics of the sexual harassment of teenagers through the Internet and social media.
  • Persisting patterns of exclusion and marginalization of the Roma people in Europe, and especially the double exclusion faced by Roma women in both women’s movements and in the scientific literature.
  • Human trafficking and the strategies implemented on the ground to prevent and stop it. 
  • Child abuse and neglect, particularly mechanisms to identify and prevent situations within educational centers. 
  • Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Trends and patterns of homelessness, particularly its public health dimension.

Prof. Dr. Ramon Flecha
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • global social development
  • under-served communities
  • societal challenges
  • social impact of research
  • overcoming inequalities
  • underprivileged populations.

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Article
Scientifically Informed Solidarity: Changing Anti-Immigrant Prejudice about Universal Access to Health
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4174; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084174 - 08 Apr 2021
Viewed by 600
Abstract
Currently, anti-immigrant sentiment has emerged again in European countries, as witnessed, for example, by the rise of xenophobic parties in many member states. This is a prejudice that is not new but that intensifies in certain circumstances, such as the economic crisis. This [...] Read more.
Currently, anti-immigrant sentiment has emerged again in European countries, as witnessed, for example, by the rise of xenophobic parties in many member states. This is a prejudice that is not new but that intensifies in certain circumstances, such as the economic crisis. This change in attitudes towards immigration has an impact on the preferences of citizens regarding the universal access to public resources and rights. The results of this article come from the analysis of certain variables of the Transnational European Solidarity Survey (TESS) conducted during 2016 in 13 member countries of the European Union. Specifically, two packages of variables are analysed regarding the degree of solidarity in relation to the access to public health services for immigrants before and after receiving scientific information about the collective benefits of the provision of health for the entire population, including undocumented immigrants. While there is much literature that analyses how scientific literacy in health and education issues improves the situation of vulnerable groups, few studies have analysed how scientific knowledge helps to modify the prejudices and discriminatory attitudes of the general population, thus contributing to the improvement of the health of the entire population. Full article
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Article
Twitter’s Messages about Hydrometeorological Events. A Study on the Social Impact of Climate Change
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3579; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063579 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 661
Abstract
This study is based on an interdisciplinary collaboration between scientists from natural and social sciences to create scientific knowledge about how Twitter is valuable to understand the social impact of hydrometeorological events. The capacity of citizens’ reaction through Twitter to environmental issues is [...] Read more.
This study is based on an interdisciplinary collaboration between scientists from natural and social sciences to create scientific knowledge about how Twitter is valuable to understand the social impact of hydrometeorological events. The capacity of citizens’ reaction through Twitter to environmental issues is widely analyzed in the current scientific literature. Previous scientific works, for example, investigated the role of social media in preventing natural disasters. This study gives scientific evidence on the existence of diversity in the intentionality of Twitters’ messages related to hydrometeorological events. The methodological design is formed by four experiments implemented in different moments of a temporal axis. The social impact on social media methodology (SISM) is implemented as social media analytics. From the findings obtained, it can be observed that there are different forms of intentionality in Twitter’s messages related to hydrometeorological events depending on the contextual circumstances and on the characteristics of Twitter’s users’ profiles (including the geolocation when this information is available). This content is relevant for future works addressed to define social media communication strategies that can promote specific reactions in vulnerable groups in front the climate change. Full article
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Article
Emotional and Educational Accompaniment through Dialogic Literary Gatherings: A Volunteer Project for Families Who Suffer Digital Exclusion in the Context of COVID-19
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1206; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031206 - 24 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1178
Abstract
In order to improve educational conditions of families lacking digital resources during the home lockdown associated with the COVID-19 crisis, a project of educational and emotional support through books featuring Dialogic Literary Gatherings was carried out, with the name “Books that Bring People [...] Read more.
In order to improve educational conditions of families lacking digital resources during the home lockdown associated with the COVID-19 crisis, a project of educational and emotional support through books featuring Dialogic Literary Gatherings was carried out, with the name “Books that Bring People Together”. We present the main results of the impact of this activity from the point of view of n = 63 volunteers who participated in it. Using Student’s t-test for related samples, the differences in volunteers’ competencies before (pre-test) and after (post-test) the experience were tested, in order to analyze whether the activity had also exerted an impact on these competencies. Moreover, a correlation analysis was applied between the items for evaluating family participation by the volunteers, volunteer skills, and training, with the aim of testing the relationships between those variables as a result of participation in the experience. Results show that families found that accompaniment improved the quality of life of their children, making them feel loved and accompanied. In addition, the family atmosphere was improved, as did the children’s interest in reading. This mode of training led to greater involvement, motivation, and interest, thereby complying with a transversal axis of the process—community participation. Full article
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Article
Contributions from Social Theory to Sustainability for All
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 9949; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12239949 - 27 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1037
Abstract
The sustainability of societies is an issue of utmost importance for humankind. This is reflected in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which highlight the main challenges that citizens face, including underserved groups, and set the path for finding solutions to overcome them. The [...] Read more.
The sustainability of societies is an issue of utmost importance for humankind. This is reflected in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which highlight the main challenges that citizens face, including underserved groups, and set the path for finding solutions to overcome them. The achievement of the SDGs for 2030 is setting not only the political agenda, but also the scientific one. From the field of social sciences, an issue that remains underexplored is the contributions (or lack thereof, in some occasions) from social theory to the consolidation of more sustainable societies, including the underserved groups. In this vein, the aim of this article is to provide robust evidence on how social theory has contributed to such improvement and is still doing it. To this end, it provides an analysis of how the advancements made from social theory with social impact have contributed to the achievement of the SDGs. Alongside, this article also presents how some theories that never had social impact at their core have hindered the improvement of societies. This dual approach provides a clear picture of the role that social theory can play in the achievement of the SDGs, as well as evidence towards the overcoming of exclusionary theories with no scientific basis. Full article
Article
Social Impact Assessment of HealthyAIR Tool for Real-Time Detection of Pollution Risk
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 9856; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12239856 - 25 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 548
Abstract
Background: HealthyAIR is a tool that detects pollution risk in real life. The target population is people with cardiorespiratory complications who are especially susceptible to the current COVID-19. The goal is to empower people by controlling air pollution everywhere to minimize the risk [...] Read more.
Background: HealthyAIR is a tool that detects pollution risk in real life. The target population is people with cardiorespiratory complications who are especially susceptible to the current COVID-19. The goal is to empower people by controlling air pollution everywhere to minimize the risk of having a seizure. Methods: We measured the social impact of the HealthyAIR tool using a Likert scale survey with two groups: professionals (engineers/healthcare) and end-users. We assessed the data in accordance with the indicators for social impact defined for the Key Impact Pathways introduced by the European Commission for Horizon Europe, and the criteria of the Social Impact Open Repository (SIOR). Results: Professionals highlight the fact that they “totally agree” (33.33%) and “agree” (26.67%) that HealthyAIR could help authorities improve their health prevention policies and programs. Users considered the tool to be “very useful” (38.46%) and “quite useful” (42.31%), which denotes its necessity. Conclusions: professionals and end users see HealthyAIR as a great preventative tool, with the former seeing it as a way to avoid seizures in their patients who, in this COVID-19 era, are particularly sensitive to any cardiorespiratory health problem. However, users suggest improving the user’s manual to make it more understandable. Full article
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Article
Coping of Chinese Citizens Living in Spain during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons for Personal Well-Being and Social Cohesion
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 7949; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197949 - 25 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 947
Abstract
Chinese citizens in China were the first affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Nevertheless, the disease rapidly spread around the world, leading to the worst pandemic experienced in modern societies. Spain has become one of the countries more severely affected by it, while having [...] Read more.
Chinese citizens in China were the first affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Nevertheless, the disease rapidly spread around the world, leading to the worst pandemic experienced in modern societies. Spain has become one of the countries more severely affected by it, while having a large Chinese community. This study aims to explore the perception of Chinese citizens living in Spain regarding the outbreak in their host country. Communicative interviews were conducted with ten Chinese men and women who had been living in Spain for at least five years. Results show cultural differences in the coping strategies of the Chinese as a response to the pandemic, which differ from those observed by the participants in their fellow Spanish citizens. These findings unveil the potential of integrating the cultural knowledge and coping strategies of migrant groups in the host communities in managing a pandemic, as well as the negative outcomes for social cohesion and well-being from new racism emerging in the context of COVID-19. Full article
Article
How Much Is One Life Worth? The Right to Equity Healthcare for Improving Older Patients’ Health Infected by COVID-19
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 6848; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176848 - 23 Aug 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3234
Abstract
Ageism has a tremendous negative impact on elderly persons and society. Discrimination against the elderly is a driver of health and social inequalities. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new social and health challenges regarding resource scarcity and shortfalls. Under these difficult circumstances, discourses [...] Read more.
Ageism has a tremendous negative impact on elderly persons and society. Discrimination against the elderly is a driver of health and social inequalities. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new social and health challenges regarding resource scarcity and shortfalls. Under these difficult circumstances, discourses excluding, and discrimination against, older people have aroused. This article gathers evidence on hospital healthcare experiences of older people infected by COVID-19 during the pandemic outbreak in Spain and it analyzes elements that have positively influenced older patients’ perceived health and well-being. We conducted nine qualitative in-depth interviews in Madrid—one of the regions of Spain most affected by COVID-19—with older people that were hospitalized and recovered from COVID-19, family members of old patients infected with COVID-19, and nurses that attended infected older patients. Findings show the challenging experiences faced by older people who were hospitalized due to COVID-19, on the one hand, and the relevance of transformative aspects related to family relationships, solidarity actions, and humanized care that overcame age discrimination, favoring social and equity healthcare for the elderly on the other hand. Full article
Article
The Art of Living as a Community: Profiguration, Sustainability, and Social Development in Rapa Nui
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 6798; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176798 - 21 Aug 2020
Viewed by 675
Abstract
This article analyzes the challenges faced by the inhabitants of the island of Rapa Nui in connection with climate change-related environmental and socio-economic problems, and the survival of the islanders’ cultural identity and their very sustainability. A qualitative research methodology was adopted, using [...] Read more.
This article analyzes the challenges faced by the inhabitants of the island of Rapa Nui in connection with climate change-related environmental and socio-economic problems, and the survival of the islanders’ cultural identity and their very sustainability. A qualitative research methodology was adopted, using observation and in-depth interviews within a life course approach. An innovative and creative methodology was employed, cross-referencing and comparing data from 2011 and 2020. This methodology has led to the further strengthening of a new concept in sociology and the social sciences in general: profiguration (intergenerational and interdependent socialization). Based on the results of this study, some analytically robust descriptions were made of the socio-cultural and environmental situation in Rapa Nui, and of an increasingly sustainable social development model. It is a model of social development that is on the way to being sustainable, intercultural, intergenerational, and promoted by the community. Full article
Article
Changes in Tongue Kissing in Hook-Ups after COVID-19
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6309; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166309 - 05 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3112
Abstract
A growing body of social and behavioral sciences studies are providing evidence on how COVID-19 is influencing changes in society and among individuals. A few of those studies focus on how it is affecting behavioral and habit changes in stable couples. Yet its [...] Read more.
A growing body of social and behavioral sciences studies are providing evidence on how COVID-19 is influencing changes in society and among individuals. A few of those studies focus on how it is affecting behavioral and habit changes in stable couples. Yet its influence on changes in hook-ups remains understudied. To contribute to filling this gap, this exploratory study analyzes changes related to tongue kissing in hook-ups promoted by increased awareness of tongue kissing certain people as a potential source of transmission. Through pre- and post-test questionnaires given to 20 girls (18–30 years old), potential changes in the memories of past tongue-kissing hook-ups and in intentions and perceptions towards future ones can be observed among 12 participants. The implications of these findings suggest not only how the new normal might affect tongue kissing in hook-ups among these girls but also how these girls might freely decide with whom to engage in sexual-affective relationships in the future. Full article
Article
Bartenders and Customers’ Interactions. Influence on Sexual Assaults in Nightlife
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6111; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156111 - 29 Jul 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1832
Abstract
Nightlife establishments are meeting points for what the scientific literature has called “hookups” or “one-night stands”—that is, uncommitted sexual relationships that can sometimes result in unwanted or even violent experiences. The scientific literature has identified that sexual assault has usually been connected with [...] Read more.
Nightlife establishments are meeting points for what the scientific literature has called “hookups” or “one-night stands”—that is, uncommitted sexual relationships that can sometimes result in unwanted or even violent experiences. The scientific literature has identified that sexual assault has usually been connected with alcohol abuse. Other studies have found that nightlife staff can be an active or passive party to violent events (sexual or otherwise), especially bouncers. However, less attention has been paid to bartenders, and their involvement in such events has not been analyzed in depth. This article presents an exploration of how some male bartenders interact with some male customers in the nightlife context to promote sexual relationships and how their interactions might influence possible sexual assault situations. The results of this study shed light on and help us to understand why sexual assault occurs in these spaces. Full article
Article
Schools That ‘Open Doors’ to Prevent Child Abuse in Confinement by COVID-19
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4685; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114685 - 08 Jun 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 6768
Abstract
Background: Due to the expected increase in child abuse during the period of COVID-19 confinement, it is essential that social researchers and other professionals work together very quickly to provide alternatives that protect children. To respond to this extremely urgent demand, evidence-based actions [...] Read more.
Background: Due to the expected increase in child abuse during the period of COVID-19 confinement, it is essential that social researchers and other professionals work together very quickly to provide alternatives that protect children. To respond to this extremely urgent demand, evidence-based actions are presented that are being carried out in nine schools in the autonomous communities of Valencia and Murcia, Spain, during the confinement with the goal of “opening doors” to foster supportive relationships and a safe environment to prevent child abuse. Methods: The research was conducted through the inclusion of teachers who are implementing these actions in dialogue with the researchers to define the study design, analysis, and discussion of the results. Results: Knowledge regarding six evidence-based actions is provided: (1) dialogic workspaces, (2) dialogic gatherings, (3) class assemblies, (4) dialogic pedagogical gatherings with teachers, (5) mixed committees, and (6) dynamisation of social networks with preventive messages and the creation of a sense of community, which are being implemented virtually. Full article

Review

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Review
Transphobic Violence in Educational Centers: Risk Factors and Consequences in the Victims’ Wellbeing and Health
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1638; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041638 - 03 Feb 2021
Viewed by 793
Abstract
School violence and bullying re worrying problems due to their growing prevalence and severe consequences for adolescent and youth health and wellbeing. Sociocultural factors can contribute to, complicate, and increase the cases of violence in classrooms and spaces related to educational centers. Transphobic [...] Read more.
School violence and bullying re worrying problems due to their growing prevalence and severe consequences for adolescent and youth health and wellbeing. Sociocultural factors can contribute to, complicate, and increase the cases of violence in classrooms and spaces related to educational centers. Transphobic violence in this article is defined as the type of violence suffered by transgender and nonbinary adolescents and youth as a manifestation of the problem of discrimination and hate against gender and sexual diversity. This work intends to study the complex sociocultural dynamics of violence detected in educational contexts affecting transgender and nonbinary adolescents and youth identified by recent high- impact studies. At the same time, we aim to fill the gap in the scientific literature on transphobic violence and articulate successful strategies to prevent and combat it. In this review, transphobic violence is defined as the violence affecting transgender adolescents and youth, continuous in time, influenced by peers, and taking place in spaces or realities related to educational centers. The reviewed studies point at the complexity of this kind of violence due to the combination of socio-personal factors and its variety in manifestations. Furthermore, we study the consequences of transphobic violence for the wellbeing and health of transgender and nonbinary adolescents and youth to deepen the knowledge of their mental health repercussions. We end by providing suggestions for how this problem can be prevented in educational environments, grounded on scientific evidence in the materialization of a transformative approach. Full article
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