Civic Engagement and Public Discourse in Times of Crises
Edited by Christian Lahusen
European solidarity is a multifaceted and dynamic phenomenon that requires careful analysis and assessment. Chapter 8 portrays the complex and fluid nature of European solidarity by developing an integrated account of findings presented in the previous chapters in this book. It argues that European solidarity is a much more contested and fragile phenomenon when compared to the situation at the national level. The principle of solidarity inspires the Treaties of the European Union, but it is weakly entrenched in European legislation; civil society organisations are committed to sustaining solidarity within their immediate environment, but they are limited in their ability to establish cross-national platforms and patterns of work; European citizens are engaged in solidarity practices towards fellow Europeans, but more citizens tend to prioritize other targets; and proponents of European solidarity do influence public discourses within the mass media, but this solidarity is exposed to substantial public contestation within the public sphere. In spite of these limitations, European solidarity is firmly rooted within European societies, given that it complements national and local forms of solidarity. The chapter argues that European solidarity has been gaining momentum since the late 2000s, but that it requires social, political and legal support in order to subsist regressive tendencies.
Solidarity is a widely debated and researched subject. However, scholarly writing has generated little evidence on the scope and structure of citizens’ solidarity within Europe, particularly in regard to cross-national solidarity between citizens and organized civil societies. Chapter 1 introduces this topic and provides an integrated account of available scientific knowledge. Moreover, it proposes a conceptual framework of analysis that aims to do justice to the multidimensionality of solidarity. It is argued that solidarity implies consensual and conflictive, social and political, attitudinal and behavioural dimensions. Additionally, it stresses the need to respect the multilayered structure of solidarity, given that solidarity is organised and institutionalised at the level of interpersonal networks, organisational fields, welfare states and public discourses. Finally, it stresses the need to consider the specificities of European solidarity, given that European solidarity is organised and institutionalised to a different extent at these three levels, when compared to solidarity within a national context.
Manlio Cinalli, Olga Eisele, Verena K. Brändle and Hans-Jörg Trenz
Chapter 6 engages with public contention about solidarity. In particular it assesses the extent to which acts of solidarity towards refugees were granted public awareness during the refugee crisis in Europe, and what claims on behalf of or against refugees were made, and by whom. It also examines the discursive construction of European solidarity in terms of its positions and justifications underlying public debate, and how such differences are used in contestations between various allegiances. The chapter also looks more specifically into the fault lines that have opened up across Europe, assessing the extent to which national debates in eight countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and the UK) have followed similar patterns of division among governments, political parties and civil society actors. Propositions of, and opposition to, different solidarity projects are taken as ‘claims’ that compete for salience in the public domain as represented by the media.
Maria Grasso and Christian Lahusen
European citizens are actively engaged in acts of solidarity both within their countries and beyond national borders. To which extent are dispositions and practices of solidarity diffused within the population of European countries? Is solidarity primarily a matter of support among fellow citizens, or is transnational solidarity across borders a relevant phenomenon? And which social, political and cultural factors tend to promote or inhibit attitudes and practices of European solidarity? Chapter 2 aims to answer these questions empirically by presenting key findings from a population survey conducted in late 2016 among citizens of eight European countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and the UK). The empirical evidence presented in this chapter gives a mixed picture. While the majority of citizens are active primarily within their own country, European solidarity is supported by an important segment of the population. It is part of a civic conduct that shows solidarity towards various targets and is thus linked to a more inclusive and open conception of citizenship.
Hans-Jörg Trenz, Verena K. Brändle, Manlio Cinalli and Olga Eisele
Chapter 7 focuses on social media dynamics in the mobilisation of support for, or opposition to, refugees. An analysis of online commenting by news readers sheds light on the more hidden side of the public sphere, where people may seize the chance to express emotions and translate them into political action. This is particularly interesting because the case of solidarity with refugees has divided public opinion all over Europe with advocates of human rights and open borders opposing supporters of exclusive, nationalist welfare. The chapter analyses how bottom-up contestation of refugee solidarity was triggered by particular events and their interpretation in the media, such as the humanitarian disasters at Europe’s external borders that unfolded during the month of September 2015. In particular, a comparative analysis of online commenting on Facebook news sites is undertaken for eight countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and the UK) in order to assess the political expressions of selected citizen-users who decide to position themselves in debates about refugees. Social media offers an interesting opportunity for citizens to ‘take voice’ or ‘take sides’, which is the precondition for any form of political mobilisation. At the reception site, opinions in the form of general attitudes expressed towards refugees as shaped by media discourse can be measured, as can responsiveness, either in the form of consenting or opposing claims raised in the media. Voices in the form of political statements made by those citizen-users who intervened in the debate as ‘secondary definers’ of the events are also assessed.
As a general principle of law enshrined in the constitutions of European member states, solidarity defines the interdependences among the diverse components of our societies, bridging cleavages in a tight weft of reciprocity exchanges. The recent economic crisis has re-opened a number of cleavages both within European member states (between the rich and the poor, the native and the foreigner, the employed and the unemployed, and so on) and among member states themselves. Chapter 5 explores to what extent the inclusion of solidarity in the constitutional texts of Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, and the UK, and in EU treaties, as well as in judicial review and constitutional litigation, has resisted as a meaningful legal paradigm the divisive effects of the economic crisis. The chapter discusses the most relevant legal dimensions of solidarity in the different jurisdictions, and it comparatively scrutinises the legal regulations of unemployment, disability and immigration/asylum as crucial fields in which to measure solidarity.
Maria Kousis, Angelos Loukakis, Maria Paschou and Christian Lahusen
Even though transnational solidarity organisations have a long history and cover a wide repertoire of activities, systematic, cross-national studies for periods of crises are rare. What are the timelines of citizens’ organised transnational solidarity across countries and movement fields? Which factors affect European solidarity activities across the disability, migration and unemployment fields? What are the obstacles and opportunities for transnational solidarity organisations during the recent global financial crisis and the 2015 refugee crisis for these three fields? Chapter 3 aims to answer these questions and illustrate the development and profile of citizens’ collective solidarity mobilisations beyond borders, in reaction to crises as well as to inadequate responses by the state. It draws on fresh primary data collected and analysed for transnational solidarity initiatives and organisations based on Action Organization Analysis of 2,408 Transnational Solidarity Organisations (TSOs), and an online survey sent to 1,108 TSO representatives. The analysis compares the situation in eight countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and the UK) and three issue-fields (disabilities, unemployment, and migration). Findings show that transnational solidarity has grown considerably in the recent period of growing societal challenges, is more local in its roots and is intricately linked to socio-political currents, the evolution of social movements, and to the context of crises.
Simone Baglioni and Tom Montgomery
Civil society organisations continue to operate as vehicles of solidarity and do so with a diverse range of groups. Chapter 4 focuses on how civil society organisations engage in meeting the needs of vulnerable groups, such as the unemployed, disabled people and migrants/refugees, through the delivery of services and policy advocacy that relate to welfare provision. Two central research questions are answered: (i) how is solidarity operationalised across Europe and (ii) at what scales of action do solidarity organisations engage across Europe? To answer these questions the chapter analyses data collected through a survey conducted with 245 civil society organisations across Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and the UK. Although the findings reveal some evidence of transnational solidarity, the organisational expression of solidarity is most often located at the national level, where most beneficiaries and political interlocutors are located.
Edward S. Dove
I explain the research approach, theoretical underpinnings, and analytical concepts that drive the empirical investigation. I show how regulatory theory provides a solid but ultimately insufficient foundation on its own for the empirical investigation that informs this book. I argue that there is a need for an empirically grounded discussion of regulatory practice. I propose an anthropology of regulation that contributes to socio-legal studies by drawing explicit attention to processes, passages, and change. I further draw on the anthropological concept of liminality, which serves as a sensitizing concept in addition to concepts provided by regulatory theory. Together with regulatory theory, liminality helps us to better understand the nature of transformations of actors within the regulatory space, the form of regulation in this space, as well as the behaviours and experiences of actors as they go through processes of change.