Thursday, 29 July 2021

Why Sociology?

In this article, MSA Public Relations Officer Dr Michael Briguglio presents an invitation to sociology.

You can read the article from this link:

Why sociology? - The Malta Independent



Friday, 16 July 2021

Press Release: Local Government Public Consultation – MSA calls for stronger social functions

With respect to the public consultation exercise entitled ‘Local Government Policy 2021’, the Malta Sociological Association has submitting the following recommendations to Government:

1.       Local Councils should have a stronger local function, for example in community initiatives and everyday matters. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how important it is to have grounded policy making initiatives which reach out to various social groups in an increasingly diverse society. These also include persons and groups who lack social networks, those who are less integrated in society and those who have less access to the basic needs of everyday life.

 

2.      Local Council decision making should be guided by evidence. In particular, local councils should employ continuous social impact assessment (SIA) processes, to ensure greater outreach and deliberation with stakeholders, through both quantitative and qualitative research methods, and subject to independent peer-review. SIAs could produce valuable evidence for policy formation and implementation.



Thursday, 17 June 2021

Press Release: Dementia Public Consultation – MSA sends feedback

The Malta Sociological Association has submitted the following feedback to the Ministry for Senior Citizens and Active Ageing (Social Care Standards Authority) regarding the public consultation on  Social Regulatory Standards – Residential Services for persons living with dementia

 The Malta Sociological Association welcomes the fact that public consultation about residential services for persons living with dementia is being carried out by Government.

 The MSA has the following feedback: 

 While Standard 1: Residents’ Rights is certainly a step in the right direction, conceptually speaking, human rights are different from human needs, and as such, the Standards make no reference to ‘advance care planning’. This refers to people thinking about, discussing and recording their wishes and decisions for future care. It is about people planning for a time when they may not be able to make some decisions themselves. In other words, advance care planning involves people making plans about what they want to happen while they are alive. This is different from people making plans about what should happen when they die. This is why this is especially important for people with dementia. Two forms of advance care planning which the Standards are best to include are the following:

 

Making statements about future needs and wishes. People can say what they would like to happen if they lose capacity to make decisions in the future. This can cover care, support and treatment. While these statements don't need to be written down, it is best to do this. It is also important to decide the best place to keep these statements so that the right people can refer to them when needed. For example, general practitioners could keep a copy as could a relative or friend, and it might be attached to a care plan. Examples include: I would want to stay in my own home as long as possible / I would only want to be supported with personal care by women / I would want to continue to have a glass of wine with my evening meal.

 

Making advance decisions to refuse treatment. Some advance statements could be about medical treatments that a person would not want, were they to lose capacity to make decisions about these in future. Some examples include: I would not want a blood transfusion because of my religion / I would not want any further chemotherapy for my cancer, in the event of my cancer reaching stage IV.

 

Quality Indicator 5: The service provider shall appoint an events coordinator and shall encourage the residents to actively take part in planning and participation in social and leisure activities is again a step in the right direction. However, it is highly lamentable that - despite the fact that learning is a fundamental human right - the Standards consider persons with dementia as an ‘education wasteland’.  Indeed, notwithstanding the fact that numerous research studies demonstrated people with dementia can learn something new, the Standards treat life with dementia in residential care facilities as incompatible with learningIn other words, residential care facilities for persons with dementia are typically viewed as settings where older adults go to spend their final days, not to fulfil their potential. As ageing experts are aware, most studies on learning and dementia to date have had an outspoken focus on how rehabilitative interventions can be implemented in order for people living with dementia to relearn information or abilities that they once knew. However, most care standards for persons living dementia have been occupied with containment rather than expansionon retaining familiar activitiesrather than enabling novel learning experiences. Lamentably, these Standards are no exception, something which we find very peculiar indeed, since the Maltese academic community is fortunate enough to include an academic geragogist (Marvin Formosa), something that few other countries have at their disposal. 

 The MSA is also proposing that this policy process employs a continuous social impact assessment (SIA) process, to ensure greater outreach and deliberation with stakeholders, through both quantitative and qualitative research methods, and subject to independent peer-review.  An SIA could produce valuable evidence for policy formation and implementation.


Thursday, 3 June 2021

Call for Proposals - Academic Events

Dear Members,

The Malta Sociological Association, through its Academic Events Subcommittee, is planning to hold a series of scholarly events in the coming months. This will comprise seminars on published research, work in progress seminar series, and exploration of sociological themes and issues. 

For this purpose, we are hereby inviting you, as MSA member, to send us your proposal/s to maltasociologicalassociation@gmail.com

Friday, 28 May 2021

Press Release: Future of Europe Conference - MSA submits its feedback

The Malta Sociological Association (MSA, registered Voluntary Organisation) has submitted its feedback to the  Conference for the Future of Europe, an EU-wide initiative which is currently in place.

MSA welcomed the Conference and adding that such public consultation should be mainstreamed across EU institutions and at different levels of governance.

MSA proposed that EU legislative options should measure, quantify and consider of the various costs of insularity experienced by small states, islands and isolated regions. This should then guide policy formation accordingly.

In its second proposal, MSA proposed that EU legislative options should factor in and take account of social impacts and the intersection of various factors.

The MSA text submitted to the Future of Europe conference reads as follows:

Small States and Social Impacts: proposal by the Malta Sociological Association

EU legislative options should measure, quantify and consider of the various costs of insularity experienced by small states, islands and isolated regions. This should then guide policy formation accordingly.

EU legislative options should factor in and take account of social impacts and the intersection of various factors.

EU legislative options mainstream social impact assessments , to ensure greater outreach and deliberation with stakeholders. 

Various methods, both quantitative and qualitative could be used within social impact assessments.  SIAs should involve the participation of different stakeholders. Analytic indicators should be provided and the entire process should be subject to peer review by independent experts in the field. This could help identify shortcomings and possible improvements to the same SIA.

SIAs should not be one-off exercises: They should be ongoing processes which engage with various stakeholders and which report back so as to ensure effective policy processes. They should also use complementary research methods so as to ensure reliable and valid data.

We refer to international SIA standards, for example those set by the International Association for Impact Assessment:


Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Press Release: Towards a Modernised Corrective Legal System: Malta Sociological Association Presents Proposals

The Malta Sociological Association (MSA, registered Voluntary Organisation) has submitted its feedback to the Ministry for Home Affairs, National Security and Law Enforcement about the White Paper Towards a Modernised Corrective Legal System: The Government’s vision of having modern corrective systems, whilst safeguarding the victims of crime, Public Consultation on an Electronic Monitoring legislation.

In this regard, MSA welcomed the public consultation, adding that in moving towards modernised corrective legal system, there should be an ongoing process of social impact assessments. SIAs could provide valuable evidence for policy formation, the implementation and enforcement on electronic monitoring.

 

SIAs are recommended by MSA as they would give a holistic picture about various opportunities, risks, changes and impacts which take place across time and space. Such legislation will impact both the persons eligible for electronic monitoring as well as society at large. SIAs include a close insight about: how the eligible persons for electronic monitoring would feel wearing a tracker that could be visible; the impact of stigma; how society at large feels and behaves when encountering a person with a tracker; as well as how the co-workers and colleagues at educational institutions respond, amongst others.


  Various methods, both quantitative and qualitative could be used within social impact assessments. The former refers to generalisable data especially through numbers, while the latter produce in-depth data on matters. Research methods in SIAs may therefore include, for example, quantitative perception surveys and qualitative methods which involve a deeper look into social realities.

 

Besides, expert interviews may verify the advice, concerns and interpretations of persons who are experts or who have experience in the respective field under analysis. 

 

SIAs should involve the participation of different stakeholders, ideally through mixed research methods. Analytic indicators should be provided, and the entire process should be subject to peer review by independent experts in the field.  This means that if a study is being carried out by a team of scientists (social, natural etc.), this should be scrutinised by other independent scientists. This could help identify shortcomings and possible improvements to the same SIA.

 

In its feedback, the MSA referred to international SIA standards, for example those set by the International Association for Impact Assessment, which is accessible from this link:

 

 https://www.socialimpactassessment.com/documents/IAIA%202015%20Social%20Impact%20Assessment%20guidance%20document.pdf