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Christian Lahusen

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.

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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.

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Citizens’ Solidarity in Europe

Civic Engagement and Public Discourse in Times of Crises

Edited by Christian Lahusen

Citizens’ Solidarity in Europe systematically dissects the manifestations of solidarity buried beneath the official policies and measures of public authority in Europe. In this exciting and innovative book, contributors offer comprehensive and original data and highlight the detrimental factors that tend to inhibit or annihilate solidarity, and those that are beneficial for the nurturing of solidarity.
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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.

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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.