Social participation

Factor #2
Domains: Interpersonal relations, Social Inclusion and Rights

Although there is not agreement on the definition of social participation (Levasseur et al. 2004), several works have attempted to conceptualize it.

From the perspective of the elderly field, social participation might be understood as "an organized process in which individuals are characterized by specific, collective, conscious and voluntary actions, which ultimately leads to self-actualization and achievement of goals" (Dehi and Mohammadi, 2020). Social participation of elderly persons might include actions such as the involvement in activities that provide interaction with others in the community (Bukov et al. 2002), sharing resources with other members of your community (Richard et al. 2012) or sharing community-based individual resources (Hsu, 2007).

Social participation

"the daily activities and social roles that ensure the survival and development of a person in society throughout his or her life" (Levasseur et al. 2004)

From the perspective of the field of the intellectual disability and the model of quality of life, social participation is defined as "the daily activities and social roles that ensure the survival and development of a person in society throughout his or her life" (Levasseur et al. 2004). It is formed by 3 dimensions: interpersonal relations, social inclusion and rights (Buntix and Schalock, 2010) and the following activities and indicators:

  1. Interpersonal relations: social networks, interaction with other persons, social and familiar relationship, having friends and get on well with people (neighbours, colleagues, etc.); positive and rewarding social contacts, couple´s relationships and sexuality.
  2. Social inclusion: going to places where other people go and take part in the activities as just one more. Community integration, participation and roles. Accessibility to public goods and services (public transportation, retirement clubs, evening classes, community associations and services...). Social networks with people who are not staff, family members or other people with ID.
  3. Rights: to be considered equal as the rest of the people, equal treatment, respect their way of being, wishes, privacy, rights (legal access, due process) .

Social inclusion

"The process of a loss of integration or participation of the people in a society and in different social, economic and political fields". (Spanish National Plan of Social Inclusion)

Related units:

Unit 7

Social connectness: keeping in touch with family and friends

Unit 8

Active ageing: Postretirement working – or leisure activities in the community

Unit 9

Social engagement: helping others and contributing to society

Unit 10

Social Media


  • Bukov, Aleksej & Maas, Ineke & Lampert, Thomas. (2002). Social Participation in Very Old Age: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Findings From BASE. The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences. 57. P510-7. 10.1093/geronb/57.6.P510.

  • Buntinx, Wil & Schalock, Robert. (2010). Models of Disability, Quality of Life, and Individualized Supports: Implications for Professional Practice in Intellectual Disability. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities. 7. 283 - 294. 10.1111/j.1741-1130.2010.00278.x.

  • Dehi, Manijeh & Mohammadi, Farahnaz. (2020). Social Participation of Older Adults: A Concept Analysis. International journal of community based nursing and midwifery. 8. 55-72. 10.30476/IJCBNM.2019.82222.1055.

  • Hsu, Hui-Chuan. (2007). Does social participation by the elderly reduce mortality and cognitive impairment?. Aging & mental health. 11. 699-707. 10.1080/13607860701366335.

  • Levasseur, Melanie & Desrosiers, Johanne & Noreau, Luc. (2004). Is social participation associated with quality of life of older adults with physical disabilities?. Disability and rehabilitation. 26. 1206-13. 10.1080/09638280412331270371.

  • Richard, Lucie & Gauvin, Lise & Kestens, Yan & Shatenstein, Bryna & Payette, Hélène & Daniel, Mark & Moore, Spencer & Levasseur, Melanie & Mercille, Geneviève. (2012). Neighborhood Resources and Social Participation Among Older Adults: Results From the Voisi Nuage Study. Journal of aging and health. 25. 10.1177/0898264312468487.

Other factors